Freedom Party wins 27% of vote in Vienna election

Austria’s resurgent far-right party won over a quarter of the vote in Vienna’s provincial election Sunday as voters took their discontent about immigration and security to the ballot box.

The elections in “Red Vienna,” a traditional stronghold of the centre-left Social Democrats, reflect a wider European trend as voters concerned about the economic crisis and integration of Muslims turn to rightist parties.

Vienna’s Social Democrats under Michael Haeupl, mayor since 1994, won 44.1 percent, losing their absolute majority.

Heinz-Christian Strache’s far-right Freedom Party scooped up 27.1 percent, up from 15 percent in 2005.

All the other main parties lost ground in Vienna, Austria’s capital and financial hub with just over a million eligible voters, and its most ethnically diverse province.

The results suggest Freedom, which has called for a ban on mosques with minarets and on Islamic face veils, is returning to its strength of the late 1990s.

Analysts say that if the centrist parties keep losing support, they might start catering more to far-right concerns on social policy, mulling for example a ban on Islamic face veils in public and stricter limits on immigration.

Reuters, 10 October 2010

See also Austrian Independent, 11 October 2010