Politics For Members

EU elections: Who voted for Austria's far-right and why?

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
EU elections: Who voted for Austria's far-right and why?
Chairman of the right-wing Freedom Party Austria, Herbert Kickl, and top candidate for the European election Harald Vilimsky stand on stage during an election party in Vienna. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

The far-right Freedom Party, FPÖ, was the winner of Austria's EU election and now looks for a strong showing in this year's national elections. But who exactly voted for the party and why?


The far-right Freedom Party, FPÖ,  emerged as the winner of Austria's EU election vote on Sunday. They gained 24.7 percent of the votes, just ahead of the ruling conservative People's Party (ÖVP), which stood at 24.7 percent. 

The Social Democrats (SPOe) followed in third place at 23.2 percent, trailed by the Greens -- which currently rule Austria as junior partners of the conservatives -- at 10.7 percent, down from 14 percent in 2019.

This marks the first time that FPÖ has secured victory in either an EU or National Council election and it sets the tone for Austria's national elections, set to take place this autumn.

But who are the people who voted for the FPÖ? And what motivates them to vote for the far right?

Most voters are male workers

FPÖ voters mainly consist of male workers with lower levels of formal education, such as those with apprenticeships or vocational training, according to a survey conducted by Foresight and the Institute for Strategy Analysis (ISA) for ORF.

About 15 percent of FPÖ voters have obtained a university degree, positioning the party as having the least educated voter base among the Austrian political parties. As a result, most of the voters are employed in blue-collar jobs, such as construction, manufacturing, and maintenance, reported Der Standard.

The party also enjoys significant popularity among older voters, with the majority of supporters being over 45 years old.

Interestingly, although the majority of the voters are men, the gender gap has decreased compared to previous elections, with 29 percent of men and 25 percent of women currently supporting the FPÖ. Still, the gender gap continues to be more pronounced within the far-right party than with any other political group in Austria.

Furthermore, the survey for ORF shows that most FPÖ voters have a long tradition of supporting the party, often seeing it as the least objectionable option compared to other alternatives. 


Immigration and EU scepticism are particular concerns 

FPÖ supporters are driven by concerns over immigration, scepticism towards the EU, and a preference for strong nationalist policies which promote national identity, cultural preservation, and patriotism, according to the survey.

Immigration is considered a crucial issue for FPÖ voters, with 71 percent referring to it as the most relevant topic. This far exceeds the 20 percent of Green Party (Die Grünen) voters who mentioned immigration as a key topic, for example.

A significant number of FPÖ supporters are also sceptical about the European Union, with nearly half (47 percent) supporting the idea of an Austrian exit from the union, a scepticism not shared by voters of other parties, where over 80 percent reject the idea of an "Öxit".

READ ALSO: What would it cost Austria if it left the EU?

Security and Russia's war in Ukraine also rank among major concerns for FPÖ voters, with 48 percent listing them as key topics. The far-right party grew as it radically opposed safety measures put in place during the Covid pandemic, and the FPÖ called on its supporters to protest against vaccinations and lockdown measures. This is still important for them, according to the Der Standard research, and much more than to any other voter.

About 30 percent of the FPÖ supporters are still debating the pandemic, they said. By far the largest amount. Among voters of centre-right and centre-left ÖVP and SPÖ, only 11 percent said they still debate Covid matters. Only 5 percent of the Greens and 4 percent of the liberal voters said the same.


Most FPÖ voters found in Carinthia

Carinthia has the highest percentage of FPÖ voters. Around 33 percent of the region's voters support FPÖ, which made it the most popular party in the region during the election, reported ORF.

Upper Austria and Styria share second place, with 28 percent voting for FPÖ, making the party the most popular one also there. Lower Austria follows closely behind, securing fourth place with 26 percent of the votes supporting FPÖ.

Vienna, on the other hand, is the region with the lowest number of FPÖ voters, accounting for 18 percent of the votes. The most popular party in Vienna is instead the Social Democratic Party, SPÖ, which obtained 29 percent of the votes.

The Green Party, Die Grünen, also has most of their supporters in the capital (17 percent) and the lowest support in Carinthia where they received 6 percent of the votes.

READ NEXT: ANALYSIS: What does Austria's far-right win in the EU elections mean for foreigners?



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