18 Oct 2017

The paling of Austrian Greens

While still not officially confirmed, it is only a matter of time until the announcement is made: after 31 years in opposition, The Greens will lose all of its seats in the Austrian parliament.

Julia Sahlender
Julia Sahlender Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
The paling of Austrian Greens - NewsMavens
Austria's The Greens party logo

Why this story matters:

While still not officially confirmed, it is only a matter of time until the announcement is made: after 31 years in opposition, The Greens will lose all of its seats in the Austrian parliament. In elections on Oct. 15th, it got only 3.8% of the vote, just shy of the 4% needed to secure a seat.

The Green's election result was a shock to many, especially to the party itself, but there were warning signs.

The party was on a sort of roll after 2016 presidential elections. Alexander Van der Bellen -- an independent candidate with a long history with The Greens, who ran as a green candidate with The Greens official support and endorsement -- secured the Austrian presidency. 

But now The Greens is fighting for survival. One reason for its rather dramatic descend was a lot of internal conflicts. Discrepancies with Peter Pilz, an important and well-known party member, might have cost it some votes. Pilz decided to leave The Greens to set up his own party, which was able to get a little over 4% and therefore actually make it into parliament. In the spring of 2017, there was also a split between The Greens and its youth party, a move which was met with mixed reactions both within the party and in the media.

Then in May 2017, The Greens leader Eva Glawischnig who had led the party to some of its greatest election results stepped down quite unexpectedly and withdrew herself from politics

All of these incidents seemed to have put off a lot of voters. For others, it might have been a fear of a coalition between the right-wing FPÖ and the conservative ÖVP (in third and first place respectively after last Sunday's elections). Voter transition analysis shows that around 150,000 former The Greens voters decided to support the social democratic SPÖ party this time around.

And lastly, as a lot of critics have said recently, that the party has lost its way. Its election campaign was uninspired and lacked content. Even party members have said so, in wake of the catastrophic election result. If The Greens wants to make its way back into Austrian parliament it will have to put in a lot of work.

Details from the story:

  • The Green Party was officially founded in 1986, but it started out as a movement in 1978 during demonstrations against a planned nuclear power plant.
  • Apart from fighting for the environment, the party has always represented the rights of minorities. It considers itself to be feminist and environmentally-friendly.
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