The result of the local elections in Graz, the second largest Austrian city, was by the media and the political establishment perceived as a kind of political earthquake.
With 20.1 % of the votes (an increase of 8.9 %) the Communist Party of Austria came in as the second-largest fraction for the municipal government after the conservative People’s Party (33.5 %). Thus the CPA did not only overtake the Greens (12 %) and the right-wing Freedom Party (13.9 %), but also the Social Democratic Party (15.3 %).
For some time now the Austrian Communists have been building a solid base in Graz local politics. Yet, the data of the first post-election survey seem to suggest that this time the results of the CPA are more than just an event of local political importance and rather give expression to the general frustration of Austrians with politics of the mainstream parties. Although Austria has been affected by the crisis much less dramatically than the Southern European EU-states, a social change seems to be on the way also in Austria. According to the SORA market research institute, 75 % of those who voted for the CPA regarded the party as competent on the issue of housing. This corresponds to the party’s profile on the local political level which has been developed in the competent work of many years; however, 60 % also consider the CPA as competent when it comes to fighting corruption and 40 % attest the party competence in questions of immigration and integration.
It is interesting to have a look at the votes distributed by income. Among workers, 22 % voted for the SDPA, while 24 % gave their vote to the CPA. This proves that the CPA is considered an alternative also among Social Democratic core voters. For the first time, it is not the German-nationalist Right who benefits from the decline of the Social Democracy – the party that has since 2007 provided the Chancellor – but a party of the Left.
The election results in Graz follow upon the success of the CPA in the Lower Austrian town of Krems which was also noticed throughout Austria. How sustainable the results in the elections for the Graz city council will turn out to be, is impossible to foretell yet. For the upcoming elections in Austria’s southernmost federal province of Carinthia, a leftist alliance could be formed in which a former Social Democratic regional parliament member, representatives of the Slovene ethnic group and members of the CPA regional organisation have joined forces. The CPA has announced to work towards a similar alliance for the upcoming parliamentary elections. If the formation of such an alliance does not succeed, the CPA will stand for elections as a list of its own.
Detailed results and analysis of voting transfer see: http://derstandard.at/1353207317843/Die-Graz-Wahl-im-Detail (in German)