With three days to go before Austria heads to the polls, the country has made more headlines for the mudslinging rather than the campaign
“Glue crisis” or “annulment of election results” are just a few keywords to remind you of past Austrian elections. The last few weeks have been marred by a dirty campaigning scandal surrounding the outgoing coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) which might make the screenwriters of the popular TV series “House of Cards” jealous.
Two Facebook pages targeted with racist content against Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) were set up by consultants hired by the SPÖ. Although the head of the party claims to know nothing, it casts a poor light on both the party and current Chancellor Christian Kern.
The political quarrels of the last few weeks of the campaign are likely to have made the screenwriters of “House of Cards” jealous
However, the scandal doesn't stop here. While the SPÖ is responsible for the dirty campaign, a party member of the ÖVP is believed to have tried to bribe SPÖ members to get information on the SPÖ’s election campaign. Also, the external consultants have a track record of having worked for all parties in the past. Behind the scenes relationships, shouldn't be excluded. And now, the two parties are suing each other – a process which is likely to go on for a long time.
This scandal has already left its mark in recent polls, showing losses of 3 to 4 percentage points for the SPÖ but hasn't affected the ÖVP much. Against this background, a coalition of the former partners appears even more unlikely and paves the way for the Freedom Party (FPÖ) to become a junior coalition partner.
Tonight’s last heavyweight TV round before the election is unlikely to change much. Nevertheless, it'll still be interesting to watch as it's likely to show how fragmented the Austrian political landscape is.
Sunday will mark the end of a turbulent political year where populist parties have threatened the survival of the entire Eurozone. The Austrian election could be an interesting case for the Eurozone as a whole to see populism is not dead. The next stage of populism might be acceptable populism.