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Analysis of the
1999 Parliamentary Elections


0. Preliminary remarks
1. Pre-electoral situation
2. Time of the voting decision
3. Party changers
4. Key motives
5. Socio-demographic groups
6. Traditional determinants
7. Transformation of party system
8. References
9. Authors

ZAP

1. Pre-electoral situation and election results


The 1999 parliamentary election campaign was one of the most dramatic in Austria's Second Republic. Its initial phase was shaped by the confrontation between the two government parties SPO and OVP, characterised to a large extent by issue-related positioning. This allowed the FPO to seize the opportunity and tap into an undefined wish for change and modify its public image by nominating a new leading candidate (industrialist Thomas Prinzhorn). In the first half of September, the direction of the campaign issues and the general mood underwent a significant change brought about by the publication of the results of opinion polls in particular, which seemed to show the FPO in a clear lead vis-à-vis the OVP, and by the massive coverage and commentary of the elections by the mass media. With the exception of the issue of foreigners, controversial political issues were increasingly pushed into the background, whereas speculations on the outcome of the elections, coalition scenarios and the like came to the fore. Considering this, it seems worth mentioning that after all 20 percent of the voters (included in the exit poll) said that they were directly or partly influenced by the publications of opinion poll results in the media as to their voting behaviour.

The election results of October 3 not only showed a strong decrease in the voter turnout – with 76 percent, or a drop of nearly nine percent, compared to 1995 the lowest voter turnout ever in the Second Republic – but also indicated massive losses of votes for the SPO (approximately 326,000 votes, or a loss of 4.7 percent and 6 seats) and even greater gains for the FPO (plus 5.3 percent and 12 seats; approx. 160,000 additional votes). On the other hand, with minus 1.4 percent, the losses of the OVP were rather moderate (number of seats remained unchanged). At the time of this analysis, the question whether OVP or FPO will come in second is still open, as the two parties are only separated by about 14,000 votes, and there are about 200,000 absentee ballots (cast by people voting outside their usual districts) yet to be counted. The Greens increased their share of votes from 4.8 to 7.1 percent (plus 4 seats). The Liberal Forum remained clearly below the 4-percent mark with 3.4 percent, or minus 2.1 percent, and is now no longer represented in the new parliament. A total of 2 percent of the votes went to other parties.

 

Table: Parliamentary elections in Austria 1979–1999

In percent

SPO

OVP

FPO

GREENS

LIF

DU

1979

51.0

41.9

6.1

n. c.

n. c.

n. c.

1983

47.7

43.2

4.9

3.3

n. c.

n. c.

1986

43.1

41.3

9.7

4.8

n. c..

n. c.

1990

42.8

32.1

16.6

4.8

n. c.

n. c.

1994

34.9

27.7

22.5

7.3

6.0

n. c.

1995

38.1

28.3

21.9

4.8

5.5

n. c.

1999*)

33.4

26.9

27.2

7.1

3.4

1.0

*) Preliminary result excl. absentee ballots.
n. c. = no candidacy.

 

List of Austrian Parties:

German

German abbr.

English

English abbr.

Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs

SPÖ

Social Democratic Party of Austria

SPO

Österreichische Volkspartei

ÖVP

Austrian People’s Party

OVP

Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs

FPÖ

Freedom Party of Austria

FPO

Die Grünen

-

The Greens

-

Liberales Forum

LIF

Liberal Forum

LIF

Die Unabhängigen

DU

-

-


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