Political scientist slams ‘invalid voting’ appeals

A top political analyst has rubbished calls to vote invalid or “white” as “undemocratic”.Political scientist Ferdinand Karlhofer said in a TV interview last night (Mon) that appeals to vote invalid at the 25 April presidential elections would not indicate democratic maturity.Several leading People’s Party (ÖVP) officials such as whip Karlheinz Kopf appealed on their supporters to vote invalid. Kopf explained it was impossible for him to support the incumbent president – former Social Democratic (SPÖ) Science Minister Heinz Fischer – while he also disagreed with the views of the Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) Barbara Rosenkranz.Karlhofer said many of those who are called upon to vote invalid might stay at home on election day.Analysts meanwhile fear a low participation in the election. Polls have shown that it was possible that around one in two of those eligible to vote could fail to do so.SORA research agency chief Günther Ogris said the high popularity figures of the incumbent president were the main reason for the expected development”His victory seems certain, and this could tempt many who agree with his ideas to stay at home,” he said.OGM analyst Wolfgang Bachmayer said he expected a turnout of 50 to 60 per cent.Various polls see Fischer at around 80 per cent of the overall vote.The Greens announced only yesterday they officially support him. Fischer now has the backing of two parties since the SPÖ also support his bid. Tens of thousands of Austrians support his candidacy on social network platforms, while thousands joined an anti-Barbara Rosenkranz Facebook group to show their disapproval with her far-right opinions.Asked for her goal, Rosenkranz said she would regard everything more than 18 per cent as a success. FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache upped the pressure by announcing he saw the potential of 35 per cent for the party’s candidate.Newspaper columnists have recently started speculating about a quarrel between Strache and Rosenkranz after he failed to attend her first election campaign event in St. Pölten last year. The FPÖ boss cited “important family-internal reasons” to stay away.Rudolf Gehring, head of the non-parliament Austrian Christians Party (CPÖ), hopes to come second but analysts said it would be a “sensation” if he garners more than five per cent.Political scientist Peter Filzmaier said the circumstances at the upcoming election “resembles a race of a sports car, a Trabi [Trabant] and a scooter. The contenders’ lap times cannot be predicted exactly, but the result is obvious in advance,” he told Salzburger Nachrichten.