Surprise in Austria

It is indeed somewhat of a surprise to everyone to see the SPÖ coming out on top of the Austrian elections today.

Everyone – including myself – had expected ÖVP and Chancellor Schuessel to come out on top, although probably not repeating the very good 2002 election result.

But the voters wanted otherwise. ÖVP lost more than 8 % and ended up with 66 seats in the Nationalrat, while SPÖ lost 0,8 % and ended up with 68 seats.

And that means that the SPÖ leader Gusenbauer is likely to be the one trying to form a coalition – which at the end of the days might well include ÖVP.

If you compare with the Swedish election two weeks ago, it’s interesting to see the difference between the two countries.

While SPÖ completely dominated Vienna, with ÖVP only having marginally more than 20 % there, the Social Democrats in Sweden suffered their worst losses in the metropolitan Stockholm area, and are now a distinct minority party there, with the Moderates being the by far leading force among the uran middle classes.

In contrast. ÖVP retains its bastions in Tyrol, where the SPÖ is virtually nothing. This sounds rather like the Swedish Social Democrats who are scoring their best results in the less populated, rural and somewhat problematic parts of the country.

Two different countries.

Now let’s see what kind of government Mr Gusenbauer will manage to get together.

It’s Austria, and it will take some time.

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