A clear majority of Austrians are in favour of more intensive EU security policy but reject NATO accession, according to a recent survey by the Austrian Society for European Policy (ÖGfE).
If a referendum on NATO membership were held in Austria today, the survey found that six out of ten respondents would oppose it, and two out of ten would be in favour.
Regarding EU membership, however, 68% of the respondents said they were in favour, according to the 1,000 respondents who participated in the survey from 11 to 13 April.
“Scepticism and uncertainty are increasing, but the fundamental support for EU membership is beyond question in Austria, especially in times of crisis,” ÖGfE Secretary General Paul Schmidt says.
“The population also says yes to stronger European cooperation in security and defence, while NATO accession is firmly rejected,” Schmidt adds.
Over the past three years, the opinion on the question of NATO accession has remained more or less constant – notwithstanding the Russian attack on Ukraine.
According to the same survey, two in three respondents advocate intensifying cooperation between EU member states on security and defence policy matters, while 20% oppose the idea and 13% expressed no opinion on the matter.
About half of the respondents consider it “very important” or “rather important” that the EU and its member states continue to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian attack.
“In any case, EU membership is not seen as a contradiction to neutrality, and a stronger, independent Europe in the world is fundamentally advocated,” Schmidt says.
When it comes to assessing which global player would be a “trustworthy partner” for Austrians, respondents are quite cautious.
There is still broad agreement in the assessment of Russia and the People’s Republic of China. 9 percent of respondents in Austria see Russia as a partner our country can trust, while 79 percent take the opposite view. 12 percent see the People’s Republic of China as a partner who can be trusted, but 72 percent do not see it that way.
India is recognized as a trustworthy partner by 27 percent, while this is not the case for 46 percent.
“It comes as no surprise that very few respondents regard a warring Russia as a trustworthy partner. The same goes for the People’s Republic of China, which is perceived as a powerful and systemic competitor. India, on the other hand, is still the big unknown for many Austrians.”
As for the United States, 34% consider the US a trustworthy partner, but 47% hold the opposite opinion.
As for Ukraine, only 28% of Austrians rated Ukraine as a trustworthy partner. At the same time, 50% of respondents do not see Ukraine as one.
“The importance of neutrality for Austrians plays into this assessment, as does a still-present criticism of NATO, capitalism and imperialism. One should not underestimate as well the influence of voices that advocate an alternative narrative to the Russian war in Ukraine”, Schmidt says.
The current survey was conducted from 11 – 13 April 2023 by market (www.market.at) on behalf of ÖGfE. 1000 respondents were questioned online (Austrian population from the age of 16-80 / weighted according to gender, age, education and region). Maximum margin of error approx. +/- 3,16 percent. Difference to 100 percent due to rounded values respectively „don’t know / no answer.)
Survey Germany: ARD-DeutschlandTrend, March 2023, infratest-dimap, n=1311 (Telephone/online)