The people in Austrian Carinthia seem to be losing interest in left-wing political parties. The Social Democrats of Carinthia (SPÖ – Social Democratic Party of Austria) remain the strongest party after Sunday’s elections in Carinthia, but nevertheless, they recorded heavy losses. Meanwhile, right-wing parties recorded a surge in support, which included the election of a Carinthian Slovenian, Franc Jožef Smrtnik, to the State Assembly.
According to the latest projections, the SPÖ party received around 39 percent of the vote, remaining below the 40 percent threshold. An even bigger blow to the prospects of a left-wing red-green coalition was the defeat of the Greens – they failed to qualify for the Carinthian State Assembly.
The Freedom Party came second, the People’s Party third, and the Köfer List, a team from Carinthia, which also had a Slovenian candidate, Franc Jožef Smrtnik, came fourth.
Team Carinthia (Team Kärnten), the People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ) gained the most votes compared to the 2018 elections, according to the latest projections, with the latter coming second with 24.7 percent of the vote. The People’s Party came third with 17.2 percent, ahead of Team Carinthia with around 10 percent support (2018: 5.7 percent).
Although the established right-wing parties ÖVP and FPÖ also gained votes, Team Carinthia improved the most – almost doubling their result compared to the 2018 elections (they got 5.7 percent then). The SPÖ can form a coalition with any of the right-wing parties, but the right-wing parties can also form a coalition among themselves (coalition combinatorics would give them 22 seats in the 36-seat assembly).
Franc Jožef Smrtnik is the former Mayor of Železna kapla and currently serves as the Deputy Mayor. Team Carinthia, like the People’s Party, targets rural areas, conservative values, centre-right politics, and regionalism. The party’s programme promises measures to encourage people to stay in the countryside, as the trend of migration to urban centres threatens to lead to the slow disappearance of the countryside, which would also be bad for the rural population of Slovenia. Smrtnik has committed himself to also using Slovenian in the Regional Chamber. “I will make my pledge in both languages, and I will use Slovenian in my speeches. I practise it in the Chamber of Agriculture, and I will do it in the Regional Assembly. I have never hidden what I am.”