Austria’s Social Democrats have been making coalition overtures after their surprise victory in yesterday’s general election. Party leader, Alfred Gusenbauer, appears only able to achieve a stable majority in parliament if his group teams up with the conservative People’s Party. But he has told them they will have to abandon welfare cuts if they want to join a left-right alliance following their defeat.
Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel’s party lost a quarter of its support in the vote,their second biggest loss since World War Two. Polls suggest the most disaffected were pensioners and workers upset with rising social divisions and immigration, however some people in Vienna still cannot understand how he lost. The far right’s success also upset Social Democrat hopes of forming a government with the Greens, leaving the so-called “grand coalition” as the most likely alternative.