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The major possibility for a change is the following: the BZOE only just scraped together the 4% necessary to make it into parliament. They got 4.1% in the end, but only due to a very strong showing in Joerg Haider's federal state Kaernten (>20%, around 1-2% in the rest of Austria).  

Right after the election the BZOE's frontman Westenthaler became embroiled in a rather ridiculous and ugly "brawl-affair" - his bodyguard allegedly beat up the press-chief of a former BZOE minister who had quit the party shortly before the election out of disgust about their xenophobe policies.

This might just be enough to push the BZOE out of parliament in the next election, which - if SPOE and Greens manage to repeat their result - would mean that they have enough seats to form a majority coalition.

But it's uncertain. Maybe the BZOE will hold on to their votes, maybe they'll get a direct mandate from Kaernten next time (despite their very strong showing, they missed it this time but only by very little). Greens and SPOE might gain slightly from the 2% or so voters who supported the party of Euro MP Hans-Peter Martin (named after him) in the last election, because that party vowed not to run again after missing parliament due to the 4% barrier. But it is questionable whether Greens and SPOE could gain enough to form a coalition if the BZOE does not drop out (if the BZOE remains in parliament, Greens and SPOE need more than an additional 2%).

So it's risky for the SPOE, for it might well lose its very slight lead to the OEVP again. Schuessel could then lay claim to holding onto the Chancellorship and thus have more incentive to form a great coalition from a stronger position.

Hopefully, the FPOE would not gain more than they already have, although they display a very cocky attitude at the moment and might pick up votes from a disintegrating BZOE and perhaps even some dissatisfied voters from the Hans Peter Martin Party. If the OEVP and FPOE gained a lot (not very likely), there might be a theoretical possibility for a FPOE-OEVP coalition. Schuessel might be tempted to have a go at that, after all, he has shown in the past that he's not above working with the far right. And Strache might agree to a coalition when rewarded with some office, as long as he doesn't have to work with BZOE (which in this scenario, would not be necessary).

However, new elections would be unpopular, and it's quite possible that a similar situation as the current arises. So maybe the OEVP and SPOE will overcome their animosity after all. We'll see and I'll keep you posted.

by Almanax on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 07:07:47 AM EST
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