Far-right FPÖ Reach 27% in Viennese Elections

10-14 October 2010

Campaigning almost exclusively on an anti-Islam and anti-immigration platform, the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has succeeded in augmenting their standing by 10% and attracting over a quarter of all voters in Vienna – a height not seen since Jörg Haider had achieved the same scores in 1996 in Vienna and in 1999 on the national level.

According to Barbara Coudenhouve-Kalergi and Cyrill Stieger, immigration has emerged from this election as the most important issue for Austrian voters, and given that there will be no further elections until 2013, the government now has an opportunity to concretely address the issue, hopefully under a SPÖ-Green coalition. Other commentators point to a growing Europe-wide phenomenon, in which right-way extremist politicians have managed to mobilize populist support around a general theme of Islamophobia, whether in Sweden, the Netherlands, France, or in Austria. In an opinion piece for Der Standard Heidi Glück, the spokesperson for former Austrian president Wolfgang Schüssel, also highlighted the efficacy of focusing on one single theme as the FPÖ had done, and the general inability for the SPÖ to come up with a plausible plan to support integration.

According to FPÖ politician Johann Gudenus, the FPÖ distinguishes clearly between Islam and Islamism. Though he has respect for the former, Gudenus sees a tendency for radicalization among Muslims which often hides behind the idea of religious freedom, while it encourages to sharia law, oppresses women, and gives rise to political Islam.