“The ruling parties have returned the lowest score in their history, while the major winners in the vote were parties to the right of the centre,” remarks Der Standard in the wake of September 29 general elections.

The Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) of Prime Minister Werner Fayman obtained 26.6 per cent of the vote, ahead of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) on 24 per cent. Both parties’ scores were down by more than 2 per cent when compared with 2008 elections. However, with support from more than 50 per cent of the electorate, the grand coalition will remain in power.

The right-wing populist and xenophobic Freedom Party (FPÖ) was placed third with 21.4 per cent of the vote, an increase of close to 5 per cent over its 2008 score, while Team Stronach, led by Austrian-Canadian billioinaire Frank Stronach, and the liberal NEOS party will take their first ever seats in parliament. The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), an FPÖ breakaway party founded by the deceased far right leader Jörg Haider, only polled 3.6 per cent of the vote.

“When all of these votes are added together, a third of Austrians gave their support to right-wing populist parties, which is unique in Europe,” adds Der Standard.