Austrian poll shows slip in center-left support since smear scandal

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 05, 2017 12:13 PM

VIENNA (Reuters) - Support for Austria's ruling Social Democrats has slipped slightly since they became embroiled in a smear scandal but they are still competing with the far right for second place 10 days before an election, the first poll since the scandal showed.

Chancellor Christian Kern's party said last weekend it was unwittingly involved in two Facebook sites that made unsubstantiated allegations against Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, leader of the conservative People's Party which is leading the polls ahead of an Oct. 15 parliamentary election.

The news prompted the party chairman to announce his resignation on Saturday. Many details remain unclear. Kern has opened an inquiry and pledged to get to the bottom of what happened.

A poll by Research Affairs published by tabloid daily Oesterreich on Thursday showed support for the Social Democrats had slipped by two percentage points to 22 percent, leaving them in third place behind the far-right Freedom Party on 27 percent.

Like many polls in Austria, however, the online survey carried out from Monday to Wednesday had a relatively small sample size, of 600 people, and a large margin of error, of 4.3 percentage points. Second place was therefore too close to call.

The People's Party, which shot to first place in opinion polls when Kurz took over as its leader in May, remained clearly in the lead on 34 percent. Other parties were on 6 percent or less.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by Andrew Roche)