EU Election: ÖVP defends first place

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EU Election: ÖVP defends first place
Othmar Karas (L), with candidates from the FPÖ, NEOS, and SPÖ. Photo: APA

Austria’s conservative ÖVP (People’s Party) has emerged the winner in Sunday’s European elections, in spite of slight losses compared to its result in the 2009 elections.


According to preliminary results the ÖVP won 27.3 percent of the vote.  The SPÖ received 23.8 percent, almost unchanged in second place.

Both the right wing, eurosceptic FPÖ (Freedom Party), and the Grüne (Greens) made strong gains, coming in at third and fourth place respectively, with 19.5 percent and 15.1 percent.

The FPÖ made gains of 6.8 percent and will double its seats in the European Parliament - with four instead of two representatives.

The liberal NEOS, a relatively new party, gained a seat in the European Parliament for the first time, with 7.9 percent.

The People's Party now has five seats, instead of six. The SPÖ holds onto five seats, the Greens have won a seat and hold onto three seats.

Final results, including postal votes, are expected on Monday evening.

ÖVP candidate Othmar Karas retains his leadership position, despite inroads into his support. The clear losers were Europe Different (Europa Anders), REKOS, and the BZÖ (Alliance for the Future of Austria), although the EU-STOP party did surprisingly well out of the smaller parties.

Election turnout was 45.7 percent, with only a slight decrease from 2009.

The EU parliament's powers have expanded since the last election in 2009, and it is hoping to have a decisive say in who gets the EU's top job, president of the European Commission.

Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, editor of Der Standard writes that: “The ÖVP has benefited from the fact that this election campaign was devoid of content. This time domestic issues did not dominate the debate. Despite the financial crisis the subject of the Hypo Alpe Adria bank has not been such a hot topic as it was a few weeks ago, and the budget debate did not overshadow everything.”

She comments that Karas is not the most exciting candidate, but he does demonstrate competence when it comes to his knowledge of the EU. And she adds that as the NEOS start to define their position in more concrete terms, they will become a greater danger to the ÖVP.

In Vienna the Greens made the most gains, with 20.7 percent. The ÖVP came only fourth place.

The head of Vienna's Green party, David Ellensohn, said he is confident of success in the local city elections next year.

Vienna’s mayor Michael Häupl (SPÖ) acknowledged that the Greens’ result was remarkable but said that the results of the EU election were not helpful in making predictions for next year’s election. "There will be quite different topics. One can not compare an EU election with a council election," he said.

Despite the FPÖ having made only modest gains in Vienna party leader Heinz-Christian Strache has vowed he will “replace Häupl as mayor".



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