Austrians oppose repeat of two-party 'grand coalition': poll

Reuters News
|
Posted: Oct 14, 2013 7:51 AM
Austrians oppose repeat of two-party 'grand coalition': poll

VIENNA (Reuters) - Three quarters of Austrian voters want the country's two main parties, in power together since 2006, to inject fresh blood into any new coalition by including a third partner, according to an opinion poll published on Monday.

Chancellor Werner Faymann's Social Democrats (SPO) and their conservative ally the People's Party (OVP) suffered their worst results in the September 29 election since World War Two, but they remain the largest parties in parliament and are expected shortly to open negotiations on forging a new coalition.

Austrian voters, weary of the squabbling and policy paralysis that marred the outgoing SPO-OVP coalition, showed their dissatisfaction in the election by awarding more than a fifth of the seats in parliament to the anti-euro, anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPO).

The Market poll for newspaper Der Standard showed only 11 percent of voters favor a repeat of the SPO-OVP coalition.

The poll showed varying levels of support for possible three-party alliances. The most popular, at 9 percent, was a tie-up between the two main parties and the environmentalist Greens.

Neither of the two big parties has backed the idea of voluntarily bringing in a third coalition partner.

Faymann has ruled out a coalition with the FPO, ignoring calls from some Social Democrats to explore an opening to a party which is attracting more blue-collar voters and wants to hike taxes on the rich to help lower-income Austrians.

Leaders of the SPO and OVP were set to give a formal green light on Monday to negotiations on forming a new government, but they will have to bridge wide differences over fiscal, education and pension policy.

Faymann has made clear he wants a deal only with the conservatives, while OVP leader Michael Spindelegger has refused to be pinned down. His party is exploring all its options, including leading a center-right coalition.

Analysts say a center-right alliance is a long shot, given the calls by the FPO and a new party led by Austro-Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach to break up the euro and end bailouts of euro zone laggards such as Greece and Portugal.

In a weekend newspaper interview Spindelegger said the next government should focus on generating more robust economic growth, improving Austria as a place to do business and overhauling an underperforming education system.

(Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by Gareth Jones)