Austria, how blue can you go?
18.5.2016 by ramon bauer
As soon as the results of the first round of the 2016 Austrian presidential elections were announced, a map that shows the winning candidate by municipality went viral.
Austrian election maps are usually dominated by the colours red or black to indicate a winning Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) or Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). Since 24 April 2016, the day when Norbert Hofer from the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) won the first round of the presidential elections, the political landscape of Austria looks almost entirely blue with some green, grey, red and black dots.
Despite five rival candidates, Hofer came out as the winner in the vast majority of Austria’s municipalities. The colours of the austromorph maps below indicate the winning candidate’s party affiliation: blue for Norbert Hofer (FPÖ), green for the runner-up candidate Alexander van der Bellen from Austria’s Green Party, and grey for the independent third-placed candidate Irmgard Griss. A few red and black dots indicate municipalities which were won by candidates from the ruling grand coalition parties (SPÖ and ÖVP respectively).
A runoff between Hofer and van der Bellen will decide Austria’s next president. And Norbert Hofer indeed has a good chance to become the country’s first president in post-war history who is not backed by one of the two major centrist parties, i.e. SPÖ or ÖVP. However, winning the second round of the elections won’t be as easy for Hofer as the upper map might suggest.
Traditional maps do not consider the population size of each municipality but rather the size of its territories. This can be quite misleading when mapping election results. Do the polygons of the small map in the upper left corner represent urban areas with a high population density or low-density rural areas? For this reason, the territories in the main map have been re-sized by the respective electorate (i.e. the number of persons eligible to vote). Consequently, the map represents the actual size of each municipality’s electorate rather than the size of its territory and therefore allows a weighted overview on the election results.
Weighted or not, Austria’s political landscape remains by and large blue. Nevertheless, the comparatively large green spots in the re-sized map suggest a rural-urban divide in the political geography of Austria. Norbert Hofer (FPÖ) was the winner in the vast majority of municipalities, especially in (less densely populated) rural municipalities, while Alexander van der Bellen (Green Party) won in most of Austria’s larger cities such as Vienna, Graz, Linz, Innsbruck, as well as in the rather urban Rheintal region (in the West of Austria).
It remains to be seen whether Norbert Hofer or Alexander van der Bellen will win the deciding second election round on 22 May 2016. Regardless of the outcome, make sure to check out the election maps from austromorph.space.