Faymann ahead as Styria vote nears

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann is narrowly ahead of People’s Party (ÖVP) Vice Chancellor Josef Pröll in a popularity poll.Researchers Karmasin said today (Mon) Faymann would have the support of 24 per cent if people were eligible to elect the chancellor in a direct vote similar to the ballot for the federal president.Its survey – published by weekly magazine profil – also showed Pröll improved by one per cent recently to 23 per cent, while Freedom Party (FPÖ) boss Heinz-Christian Strache would have the support of just nine per cent.Eva Glawischnig – who was recently re-elected as federal chief of the Green Party with 96 per cent of the delegates’ votes – would win seven per cent in a direct election for chancellery.Pröll (21 per cent ) was ahead of Faymann (20 per cent) in a similar Karmasin research last February. The agency then asked people whether they would support the current chancellor or vice chancellor in a possible direct vote – or Faymann’s predecessors Alfred Gusenbauer (SPÖ) and Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP).Gusenbauer, who now heads the supervisory board of construction firm Strabag – would be supported by only eight per cent, while ÖVP MP Schüssel could be sure of 10 per cent of the overall vote.With 26 per cent, most of those interviewed said they would not support any of the suggested individuals.Karmasin also said today the SPÖ would come first given that general elections take place this week with 33 per cent, just ahead of coalition partner ÖVP (32 per cent).The FPÖ would garner 20 per cent, while the Greens would be supported by 11 per cent.The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) would fail to take the four per cent hurdle to enter the federal parliament (two per cent).This result would mean that both government parties would improve compared to their 2008 general election performances (SPÖ: 29.3 per cent; ÖVP: 26 per cent).The FPÖ, up by 6.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent, would become stronger while the Greens would stagnate.The biggest development would affect the BZÖ since it garnered 10.7 per cent two years ago.Meanwhile, pollsters predict a close finish for first place in Sunday’s (26 September) Styrian election.The SPÖ overtook the ÖVP for the first time since the end of the war in 2005 following a string of business scandals involving ÖVP officials and prominent ÖVP supporters.SPÖ Governor Franz Voves made clear he would resign if his party failed to remain the strongest faction in the provincial parliament.Both Voves and ÖVP Styria chief Hermann Schützenhöfer have controversially refused to rule out cooperating with the FPÖ after the ballot.Schützenhöfer explained today: “If Franz Voves said he could imagine accepting the support of the FPÖ to become governor, I can’t rule out acting the same way.”The FPÖ is tipped to win more than 10 per cent in the upcoming ballot after plunging from 12.4 per cent (2000) to 4.6 per cent five years ago.Both right-wing rivals, the FPÖ and the BZÖ, suffered massively in several provincial elections following the split in April 2005 which led to the foundation of the BZÖ.Campaigning in Styria has been dominated by integration and economic issues.The FPÖ infuriated anti-racism NGOs and civil rights activists by putting a shooter game targeting mosques, minarets and muezzins online.FPÖ Styria chief Gerhard Kurzmann could lose his immunity over the decision to publish the PC game, while the Greens reported the FPÖ to police for agitation.Strache failed to clearly disassociate himself from the game, and some columnists said Voves and Schützenhöfer could have reacted more determined than they did.Economic topics have also played a key role on the campaign trail as Styria’s many industrial firms have suffered massively since the global crisis started in autumn 2008.Dozens of companies put their staff into part time work following a decline in orders and sales to avoid dismissals. The jobless rate shrunk recently more significantly than expected by most think tanks, but economists have warned that the crisis was not over yet.