Far-Right Support Surges In Vienna

Veronika Oleksyn, MSNBC, October 10, 2010

The far-right resurged in local elections Sunday in Vienna, the Austrian capital, securing the biggest gains in votes and mandates following a campaign laced with anti-Islamic rhetoric.

With only absentee ballots left to be counted, the anti-immigration Freedom Party won 27 percent and 28 seats in the regional parliament–up from 13. That’s a significant boost from the 14.8 percent they garnered during 2005 elections, and near their record high of 27.9 percent, achieved in 1996, when the late Joerg Haider was at the party’s helm.

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The Social Democrats took the lead with 44.2 percent of the vote–down from 49.1 percent in 2005. But with just 49 seats to call their own, down from 55, they lost their absolute majority and will now have to look for a coalition partner.

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The center-right People’s Party, meanwhile, also suffered big losses, dropping from 18.8 percent in 2005 to 13.2 percent or 13 seats. It had previously held 18. The Greens placed fourth with 12.2 percent, or 10 seats, down from 14.6 five years ago. It lost four mandates.

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In the end, the Freedom Party connected best with predominantly male and less educated voters aged 20 to 29 or above 60, according to the Vienna-based Institute for Social Research and Analysis.

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In response to the Freedom Party, the young Social Democrats handed out a comic that portrayed Strache as brain-dead and remote-controlled and in which a hero named “Mr. X” beats up Nazi zombies.

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