Karl Nehammer’s party was defeated in Lower Austria, a stronghold of the formation. The first partial results show that the OVP took only 39.9% of the votes. The party leaders had a declared goal of a score of over 40%. They lost 10 percent in four years, reaching 39%, the weakest result since 1945, and lost its absolute majority in the lower Austrian parliament and probably also in the regional government. The extreme right, FPO, the party of freedom, reached 25%, an increase of 10 percent compared to the previous elections.
The Social Democrats also took almost 21%, also decreasing. With this score, the popular party lost its majority in the government and in the regional parliament. They must form a coalition with the social democrats or the extremists. That is if these two formations do not form an alliance with each other. Defeat now may be the prelude to the loss of power for Karl Nehammer.
Lower Austria is the state that gives the most parliamentarians to the upper house. More precisely, 12. Currently, seven of them are from OVP, Nehammer’s party. But the ruling coalition has the smallest possible majority in the upper house – the Federal Council – just one more seat than the opposition. So any loss in Lower Austria can destroy the ruling alliance in Vienna.
Lower Austria completely surrounds Vienna. It is the country’s largest state and second in population after Vienna. Many of those who work in the Austrian capital live in Lower Austria.
Vienna and Lower Austria are also home to more than half of all immigrants living on Austrian territory. That’s how immigration became a campaign theme for Nehammer and his party. Official government statistics can also explain what the chancellor has with Romania, in the context of the elections in Lower Austria.
Romanians are the largest immigrant group in this important region. There are almost 27,000 Romanians, more than 11% of all immigrants from Lower Austria. There are more Romanians in the region who voted today than Germans, Turks and Serbs.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer blames his party’s heavy defeat in Lower Austria on the multiple crises that have affected and are affecting Austria.
“It’s a bad time for governments because people are not happy with the situation. We have to understand that. What’s important, at the federal political level, but also at the regional political level, is to do something to help the people. Let’s give the signal that we are with them in these crises,” was Karl Nehammer’s first reaction.
The OVP was also marked by corruption investigations, besides the global crises, with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, the leader of the OVP, admitting that corruption allegations contributed to Sunday’s poor score.
However, the leader of the OVP in the state, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, ruled out a resignation and explained that her party is looking to build a government with the Social Democrats or the far-right FPO party.
The conclusion about the “impact or lack of impact of the use of the Schengen theme” in Austria “can be easily drawn”, after the historic defeat suffered in Sunday’s elections by the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who on December 8 blocked Romania’s accession to Schengen, says the Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu.
“We see the results of the elections in Austria. Of course, as Foreign Minister, I cannot comment on the results of internal elections in another state, but these results are very clear. I think it is easy to draw a conclusion about the impact or lack of impact of using the Schengen theme in Austria, in this campaign or in this electoral context”, said Bogdan Aurescu on Monday.
The Foreign Minister said that “the most important thing” is for the authorities to continue the “constructive dialogue” and all the steps started with Austria, he recalled Klaus Iohannis’ discussion with the Austrian president and the re-sending of Romania’s ambassador to Vienna, Emil Hurezeanu, “a opening gesture that was appreciated by the Austrian side”.