Austria’s opposition Freedom Party (FPÖ) has significantly increased its lead over the other Austrian parties, according to recent polling.
Not only is the FPÖ Austria’s most popular party, but it would score 32 percent if elections were held today, according to the APA/ATV Austria Trend poll. Meanwhile, support has fallen for the moderate Christian Democrats (ÖVP), which is in second place at 22 percent. The ÖVP, which is currently ruling with the Greens, has seen its support halve from its 44 percent polling high in 2020.
The Freedom Party currently has a full 10-point lead. The social-democratic SPÖ achieved 21 percent, the Greens 9 percent, and the left-liberal Neos 9 percent.
In addition, 55 percent of Austrians say they can support FPÖ’s participation in government, with only 35 percent opposed to this.
The polling shows that the FPÖ and the ÖVP have a chance to form a coalition; however, bad blood remains between the two parties after the ÖVP collapsed their coalition over the Ibiza Affair and joined the Greens to maintain power.
The FPÖ may hold a significant lead, but it faces considerable opposition from the political mainstream in the country, with all major political parties vowing not to elect its leader as chancellor should it return to parliament as the largest party after fall elections in 2024.
The FPÖ’s rise in the polls began in May 2022, and it was only last month that it rose above the 30 percent mark for the first time. The SPÖ, which was just under 30 percent in the summer of 2022, has fallen to 21 percent. If the current figures do not change significantly by autumn of next year, Kickl could become the first FPÖ chancellor of the Austrian Republic.
Austria saw a record number of asylum applications in 2022. In fact, asylum applications nearly tripled since 2021, reaching nearly 60,000. The news has shocked Austria and led to a sharp backlash from a population highly skeptical of mass immigration. The FPÖ, more so than any other major party, has made immigration restriction central to their platform.
At the same time, the FPÖ party is the only major party opposed to Russian sanctions, which it blames for creating inflation and economic turmoil in the Austrian and European economies. Many Austrians are sympathetic to this position.
“It’s finally time to appear in the EU and say: These sanctions harm us much more than Putin. Our people have to foot the bill for them,” said deputy FPÖ chairwoman Dagmar Belakovich in the plenary session of the National Council last year.
The party’s leader, Herbert Kickl, has also pointed to the absolute necessity of Russian energy for Austria’s households and businesses. He blames much of Austria’s inflation woes on the economic sanctions on Russia.
“If you were honest, you would have to say to the population: We can’t do without this Russian oil and gas for a long time,” said Kickl. “We need this cheap energy for households, for heating, for cooking, for hot water, for manufacturing companies.”
As Remix News previously reported, aside from security and foreign policy, the FPÖ has enjoyed success with its proposals for economic reform, recently calling for the introduction of a rent freeze until 2026 to provide real relief to those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
The party also remains fiercely opposed to the rising digital economic climate and staunchly supports the right to cash payments being enshrined in Austria’s constitution.