Vienna (AFP) – Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) has drawn nearly even with the ruling Social Democrats (SPOe) in Vienna ahead of October 11 elections in the capital city state, according to a poll published Saturday.
According to the survey, the FPOe would win some 35 per cent of the vote, just one point short of the SPOe, which has controlled the Austrian capital since 1945.
The FPOe, led by 46-year-old Heinz-Christian Strache, has gained steadily in the polls since the spring, thanks in part to the migrant crisis, like other far-right parties across Europe.
In recent months Austria has become a major transit country for tens of thousands of migrants entering from Hungary — having travelled up through the western Balkans — bound for northern Europe, in particular Germany.
Late last month the FPOe doubled its score in regional elections in Upper Austria, winning 30 per cent of the vote for a second place behind the conservative People’s Party (OeVP).
In June, Strache’s party joined in an improbable coalition with the Social Democrats in eastern Burgenland after winning 15 per cent of the traditionally left-wing province.
Analysts say the mainly working-class electorate of the SPOe has partly shifted to the FPOe.
The survey by polling firm Market for the Standard daily found the FPOe up nine points while the SPOe was down eight.
If the Freedom Party wins in Vienna, it would be a symbolic political earthquake, but the party would not necessarily take power in the capital, since runners-up would likely form a coalition.
The Austrian capital has long prided itself on its leftwing credentials, going by the nickname “Vienna the Red”.