Following the COVID-19 pandemic and now the Russo-Ukraine War, the desire to leave the European Union has been rising steadily among Austrians, with the latest data indicating that nearly 3 in 10 citizens wish to abandon the bloc entirely.
The data, published by the Austrian Society for European Politics (ÖGfE), revealed that some 27% of Austrians are now in favor of their country’s exit from the European Union, up from 13% when Austrian’s were asked the same question in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic—an increase of well over 100%.
By comparison, when the same survey was conducted in 2019, only 8% of the population favored leaving the Union—a historic low at the time.
The proportion of Austrians who expressly support the European political project has declined considerably over the past few years as well. Today, less than two-thirds of the population (64%) are in favor of Austria’s membership in the EU, down from 75% in 2019, prior to onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on the trend indicated in the survey, Paul Schmidt, the secretary general of the Austrian Society for European Politics (ÖGfE), said:
Pessimism about the future mixed with loss of prosperity and disenchantment with politic, however, creates a mixed situation that one should not close one’s eyes to. An ongoing war, further escalations steps by Russia, and concerns about an adequate energy supply are also putting European unity to the test.
The survey’s results come as the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the only party represented in parliament that has opposed both COVID-19 lockdowns and Russian sanctions, has witnessed its popularity surge over the past two and half years—so much so that it is now the most popular party in the country.