Austria's Social Democrats in trouble

In the run-up to Austria's legislative elections on October 15 the social-democratic SPÖ is facing harsh accusations. Reports have emerged that a former SPÖ adviser had two fake Facebook fan pages for challenger Sebastian Kurz containing right-wing populist ideas set up in a bid to scare off moderate voters. Journalists see the SPÖ facing huge losses.

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Népszava (HU) /

EU will soon have a new problem in Vienna

With its smear campaign against Kurz the SPÖ has lost all hope of winning the elections and paved the way for a coalition government between the ÖVP and the right-wing populist FPÖ, Népszava believes:

“Christian Kern and the Social Democrats have discredited themselves and no longer have any chance of winning. The right-wing populist Freedom Party is laughing up its sleeve because as 'kingmaker' it's sure to be part of the next coalition. Apart from its cheap propaganda against immigrants, the FPÖ is also anti-EU, a fact it has confirmed in numerous anti-EU campaigns. ... At least Orbán and his government can rub their hands in glee.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Campaigning at its worst

The SPÖ has done itself immense damage with this campaign, Der Standard comments:

“Christian Kern, chancellor and leading candidate for the SPÖ, is in poor shape. Any chance the SPÖ had of turning the campaign around and catching up with ÖVP leader Sebastian Kurz is a thing of the past. The SPÖ must prepare to face losses of potentially historic proportions. ... But the party only has itself to blame. Whoever it was in the party's devil's workshop who mixed the ingredients of this election campaign, fuelling one thing, tolerating another, looking on idly at a third and completely ignoring a fourth, played a key role in completely taking the wind out of the leading candidate's sails. And the damage they have done to the party will take a long time to heal.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Trust in politics shaken

The SPÖ leadership's insistence that it had no knowledge of the campaign is laughable, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“That can only mean that Chancellor Christian Kern's party is driven by dark forces, and such a loss of control would be worrying. However, it's more likely that no one really wanted to know the details of what this adviser was up to. But if you hire an expert on smear campaigns you can't plausibly distance yourself from their actions. This all has a price beyond the 500,000 euros that the smear campaign allegedly cost. The SPÖ will pay that price on voting day, but it undermines trust in politics as a whole.”