Austrian legislative election, 2017
All 183 seats in the National Council
92 seats needed for a majority
Legislative elections were held in Austria on 15 October 2017. The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) emerged as the largest party in the National Council, winning 62 of the 183 seats. The Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) finished second with 52 seats, slightly ahead of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), which received 51 seats. NEOS finished fourth with 10 seats, and PILZ (which split from the Green Party at the start of the campaign) entered parliament for the first time and came in fifth place with 8 seats. The Green Party failed to cross the 4% threshold and was ejected from parliament, losing all of its 24 seats.
The SPÖ had been the largest party after the previous elections in 2013, and had led the government since 2007.
The FPÖ's tally of 51 seats is the second-closest that a third party has come to overtaking either the ÖVP or SPÖ since World War II, behind only its tie with the ÖVP in seat count (and narrow edge in votes) in the 1999 election. The 2017 result is only the second time since 1966 that the ÖVP has been the largest party in the National Council.
Sebastian Kurz, who had been named leader of the ÖVP only five months before the election, claimed victory on election night. Incumbent Chancellor Christian Kern, leader of the SPÖ, announced that he was willing to consider a coalition with the FPÖ—even though he said that the likelihood of such a coalition was very small. Kurz was formally invited to form a government on 20 October, and began coalition talks with FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache four days later. Negotiation teams on both sides were established to work on a coalition agreement. Kurz planned to have a new government in place by Christmas. The talks proved to be successful and led to the formation of the Kurz government on December 18.
Conservative ÖVP party leader Reinhold Mitterlehner resigned on 10 May. On 14 May Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz was unanimously elected new leader of the ÖVP by the federal party committee and called a snap election. Kurz announced the creation of an independent (but ÖVP-backed) list for the elections under the name "List Sebastian Kurz - The new People's Party", which would be open to non-ÖVP experts or otherwise-interested people.
Green Party leader Eva Glawischnig resigned from all her offices on 18 May, citing family and health-related reasons but also increasing political pressure over the last months following the expulsion of the Young Greens from the party, as well as the coming challenging election campaign. On 19 May, the Green Party committee unanimously elected current Tyrol state party head Ingrid Felipe as its new party leader. However, MEP Ulrike Lunacek was chosen as the party's candidate for the Chancellorship in the 2017 elections.
On 14 June, the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) announced that it would drop a 30-year ban on coalitions with the far-right FPÖ under certain conditions. The party's "values compass" included a set of requirements that any coalition partner had to fulfil, including having a pro-European policy, a commitment to a minimum wage of €1,500 a month, gender equality and upholding human rights.
On 27 June, Team Stronach announced that they would not contest the elections after founder Frank Stronach decided to stop all financial contributions to the party and stated his intention to leave politics.
On 8 July, independent 2016 presidential candidate Irmgard Griss joined an electoral alliance with NEOS. Although not a member of the party and despite not participating in their primaries, she was given second place on the NEOS list after party leader Matthias Strolz. This measure was approved by a wide margin among delegates at a party meeting in Vienna.
On 14 July, former FPÖ-leader in Salzburg Karl Schnell announced that he would run in the election with a list called "Freie Liste Österreich – Liste Dr. Karl Schnell (FLÖ)". Schnell already has the support of 3 MPs in parliament and won't need to submit 2600 signatures to be on the ballot.
On 17 July, long-time Green Party MP and founding member Peter Pilz decided to leave the parliamentary club. On 25 June, a majority of Green Party delegates at a convention voted not to renew his spot on the party list for the election. Pilz has repeatedly stated interest for running his own list in the election. On 25 July, he presented his new list, Peter Pilz's List, during a press conference. Pilz already has the support of 4 MPs in parliament and won't need to submit 2600 signatures to be on the ballot.
On 14 August, the SPÖ ended their co-operation with Israeli election adviser Tal Silberstein after he was arrested in Israel on suspicion of money-laundering and corruption. For several years, Silberstein worked as an opinion poll and campaign strategy consultant on behalf of the Social Democratic Party.
On 14 August, popular Austrian comedian Roland Düringer announced that his satirical, anti-establishment list My Vote Counts! (G!LT) collected more than 2600 signatures and will appear on the ballot in every state.
On 16 August, the KPÖ+ election alliance between the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) and the Young Greens announced that they collected more than 2600 signatures and will appear on the ballot in every state. Following their expulsion from the Green Party in May, the Young Greens joined the alliance with the Communist Party.
On 30 September, SPÖ general secretary and campaign manager Georg Niedermühlbichler resigned, following revelations of an internal SPÖ "dirt campaign" directed against ÖVP-leader Sebastian Kurz. The negative Facebook campaigning websites were initiated by former, controversial SPÖ adviser Tal Silberstein who got fired by the party a month before. In the days following the revelations and a blame-game about the origins and responsibility in the affair, the ÖVP decided to sue the SPÖ and vice versa.
On 6 October, PR adviser and former Silberstein associate Peter Puller claimed to have been offered €100,000 by the ÖVP in exchange for internal information on the SPÖ election campaign, citing a meeting between himself and a Kurz campaign official. The ÖVP are denying that any offers were made.
The 183 members of the National Council are elected by open list proportional representation in nine multi-member constituencies based on the states (with varying in size from 7 to 36 seats) and 39 sub-constituencies. Seats are allocated using the Hare method at the sub-constituency level and the D'Hondt at the federal level, with an electoral threshold of 4% or one seat in one of the 39 sub-constituencies. Voters are able to cast a party vote and one preference votes on each the federal, state and electoral district level for their preferred candidates within that party. The thresholds for a candidate to move up the list are 7% of the candidate's party result on the federal level, 10% on the state level and 14% on the electoral district level. Candidates for sub-constituency level are listed on the ballot while voters need to write-in their preferred candidate on state and federal level.
Qualified parties and lists
In order to contest the election federally, a party (or list) was required to obtain either the signatures of three MPs in parliament or to collect 2,600 valid signatures from eligible voters ahead of the elections.
Parties could also contest the election in individual states only; for this, they needed to collect the following numbers of signatures:
- 100 – Burgenland, Vorarlberg
- 200 – Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol
- 400 – Upper Austria, Styria
- 500 – Lower Austria, Vienna
Parties were able to collect the signatures between 25 July and 18 August. The state and federal election commissions validated the signatures and announced the qualified parties on August 24.
Sixteen parties qualified to contest the elections:
- Parties and lists represented in the National Council before and contesting
- Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ)
- Austrian People's Party (ÖVP)
- Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ)
- The Greens – The Green Alternative (GRÜNE, not represented now)
- NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS)
- Parties and lists not represented in the National Council before, but were able to secure ballot access
- On the ballot Austria-wide
- On the ballot in individual states only
- Socialist Left Party (SLP) – on the ballot in Vienna and Upper Austria
- Homeless in Politics – Christian Liberals – Austria's Christian Poverty Party (ODP) – on the ballot in Vienna
- EU Exit Party (EUAUS) – on the ballot in Vienna
- New Movement for the Future (NBZ) – on the ballot in Vorarlberg
- Men's Party (M) – on the ballot in Vorarlberg
- Christian Party of Austria (CPÖ) – on the ballot in Vorarlberg
- Parties and lists represented in the National Council, but will not run for another term
- Team Stronach (FRANK)
According to final numbers, 6,400,993 citizens older than 16 were eligible to vote in the election. A total of 3,307,645 women and 3,093,348 men were eligible to vote. The numbers also included 60,762 Austrians who had their main residence abroad, but who registered in time to vote. Despite Vienna being the most populous state, Lower Austria had the most eligible voters (1,288,802), while Burgenland had the fewest (232,740). After a period of objection, the number of eligible voters was finalized and released on 15 September by the state and federal election commissions.
A total of 889,193 postal ballots had been requested ahead of the election, a new record. That number was up significantly from the election in 2013 when 668,810 ballots were requested. It was estimated that roughly 780,000 postal ballots will be cast, or about 15-16% of all ballots cast. The overwhelming majority of postal ballots was counted on Monday, 16 October and a small part on Thursday, 19 October - when the final election result was made official.
Issues being debated included immigration, integration, crime and security, tax cuts, job creation/reducing unemployment, pensions and care for the elderly.
|Austrian People's Party (ÖVP)||1,595,526||31.5||62||+15|
|Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ)||1,361,746||26.9||52||0|
|Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ)||1,316,442||26.0||51||+11|
|NEOS – The New Austria (NEOS)||268,518||5.3||10||+1|
|Peter Pilz List (PILZ)||223,543||4.4||8||New|
|The Greens – The Green Alternative (GRÜNE)||192,638||3.8||0||–24|
|My Vote Counts! (G!LT)||48,234||1.0||0||New|
|Communist Party of Austria Plus (KPÖ+)||39,689||0.8||0||0|
|The Whites (WEIßE)||9,167||0.2||0||New|
|Free List Austria (FLÖ)||8,889||0.2||0||New|
|New Movement for the Future (NBZ)||2,724||0.1||0||New|
|Homeless in Politics (ODP)||761||0.0||0||New|
|Socialist Left Party (SLP)||713||0.0||0||0|
|EU Exit Party (EUAUS)||693||0.0||0||0|
|Christian Party of Austria (CPÖ)||425||0.0||0||0|
|Men's Party (M)||221||0.0||0||0|
|Source: Austrian Interior Ministry|
Results by state
|State results in %||ÖVP||SPÖ||FPÖ||NEOS||PILZ||Greens||G!LT||KPÖ||Others||Turnout|
|Source: Austrian Interior Ministry|
On 22 October, after Sebastian Kurz talked with all party leaders and Chancellor Kern being the last one he talked with, Kern announced that the SPÖ would prepare for opposition starting on Monday, 23 October.
On 24 October, Sebastian Kurz officially invited the FPÖ to coalition talks. The FPÖ accepted this offer and first talks started on Wednesday, 25 October.
On 16 December, the new ÖVP-FPÖ government was officially presented at a press conference by Sebastian Kurz and Heinz-Christian Strache. As result of the negotiations the ÖVP staffed eight cabinet posts and the FPÖ six. Each party also established an additional State Secretary. President Van der Bellen approved the new government and it was sworn in on 18 December.
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- "Kern ist offen für Gespräch mit Strache". de:Heute (österreichische Zeitung). 18 October 2017.
- Austrian conservatives and far right to start coalition talks Politico, 24 October 2017
- "Austrian chancellor tries to keep coalition alive after ally quits" Reuters
- "Austrian conservatives pick Foreign Minister Kurz as leader" Reuters
- "Grünen-Chefin Glawischnig tritt zurück" ORF
- "Grüne: Felipe wird Obfrau, Lunacek Spitzenkandidatin" ORF
- "Austrian Social Democrats drop ban on coalitions with far right" Reuters
- "Team Stronach gibt auf" Die Presse
- Griss bei NEOS-Treffen: "Große Ehre für mich" Kurier
- Nationalratswahl: 16 Listen sammeln Unterschriften Der Standard
- Peter Pilz kandidiert mit eigener Liste – Stern, Cox, Bohrn Mena und Kolba als Mitstreiter Der Standard
- Austrian Social Democrats drop adviser over money-laundering probe Politico.eu
- Düringer: "G!LT" steht bundesweit am Stimmzettel Kurier
- KPÖ Plus steht bundesweit auf den Stimmzetteln ORF
- Negative campaign sites scandal shakes up Austrian election race The Guardian
- Legal writs fly as Austria’s Facebook scandal deepens: Center-right party’s spokesman accused of bribing former Social Democrat adviser. Politico.eu
- Austria’s Haus of Cards Politico.eu
- Vorzugsstimmenvergabe bei einer Nationalratswahl ("Preferential voting in a federal election") HELP.gv.at
- "Nationalratswahl: Vorgezogener Termin am 15. Oktober 2017" Vienna.at
- Nationalratswahl 2017 – die kandidierenden Parteien BMI
- Endgültige Zahl der Wahlberechtigten BMI
- Zahl der ausgestellten Wahlkarten BMI
- Neuer Rekord mit 889.193 Wahlkarten ORF
- Kurz soll neue Regierung bilden ORF
- Kern: "Bereiten uns auf Opposition vor" Die Presse
- Austria's far-right Freedom party invited to enter coalition talks The Guardian
- Austrian president approves far-right Freedom party joining coalition government The Guardian