The Social Democratic Party has achieved a narrow victory over the ruling People’s Party, defeating Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel after six years in power. The Social Democrats, led by Alfred Gusenbauer, obtained 35.7% of the votes, compared with 34.2% by the People’s Party. The far-right Freedom party scored 11%, the Greens 10.5% and Jörg Haider’s Future of Austria party, which broke away from the Freedom Party in 2003, 4%.
Alfred Gusenbauer, leader of the Social Democrats, is likely to become the next Chancellor, although this will be dependent on forming a coalition, most probably with the People’s Party, an outcome which would resemble the ‘grand coalition’ of the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats which prevailed in Germany in 2005. However, Schüssel may cling on to the Chancellorship by forming a coalition with the two far-right parties, as he did with the Freedom Party in 2000, or with the Greens and the Future of Austria.
2 October 2006