ÖGfE survey: High support for EU membership during the Austrian EU presidency

Austrians’ approval for EU membership remains at a high level while interest in European issues is growing, a survey by the Austrian Society for European Policy (ÖGfE) shows. About half of the respondents are satisfied with the Austrian EU Presidency. The percentage of those willing to participate in the next elections to the European Parliament is at a similar level as prior to the EP elections 2014.

In the nationwide survey conducted in mid-October, 74 percent of Austrians say that our country should remain a member of the EU. 13 percent are in favor of leaving the Union. 12 percent do not take a position. Compared to the last ÖGfE survey in May 2018, public opinion remained quite stable. An ÖGfE time series shows that support for EU membership has increased especially after the Brexit vote while the number of those who want Austria to leave the Union has declined by another 4 percentage points.

A total number of 57 Austrian-wide ÖGfE-surveys since 1995 indicate that – despite fluctuations – Austrians in favor of EU-membership have continuously formed a clear majority. On average the number of membership supporters has been at around 70 percent versus 23 percent of leavers. The highest support for EU-membership was recorded in June/July 2002 (80 percent), the strongest wish to leave the EU in June/July 2008 (33 percent).

Almost one in four surveyed Austrians (23 percent) say that since the start of Austrian presidency in July their interest in EU issues has grown. On the other hand, for around three quarters of respondents (72 percent), this had no impact on their European political interest.

Almost one in two respondents (49 percent) is currently “very satisfied” with the Austrian EU presidency (8 percent) or “rather satisfied” (41 percent). One third of Austrians do not agree and say that are “rather not satisfied” (23 percent) or “not satisfied at all” (10 percent). A high proportion of 17 percent does not take a position (“do not know / no answer”).

Seven months before the next elections to the European Parliament, 42 percent of respondents said that they would definitely cast their vote on 26 May 2019, while 34 percent are “rather” sure. Only 14 percent say that from today’s perspective they will “rather not” vote, 3 percent “certainly not” (7 percent “do not know / no answer”)

These results do not differ much from those of an ÖGfE survey conducted in November 2013 prior to the European elections 2014. Also five years ago, about three out of four respondents expressed their willingness to participate in the EP elections (49 percent “definitely” | 29 percent “rather”). Nearly two in ten respondents said in 2013 that they would rather “not” (11 percent) or “certainly not” (8 percent) vote in the European Parliament elections.

The current survey was conducted from 18 to 23 October 2018 by the Sozialwissenschaftliche Studiengesellschaft (SWS) on behalf of ÖGfE. 580 persons were questioned via telephone (Austrian population from the age of 16 / weighted according to gender, age and education). Maximum margin of fluctuation approx. +/- 4,1 percent. Difference to 100 percent due to rounded values.