Austrians Growing More Tolerant

News | Vienna Review | December 2008 / January 2009

Austrians see little chance for a person of African decent to become president here, but would vote for one in America. While a dominant 41% of Austrians surveyed believe that a black candidate like Barack Obama would have "no chance" of being elected president in Austria, a surprising 28% said it was possible, according to a study by the Klagenfurt-based "Humaninstitut - Human Logistic."

In addition, another 31% of those surveyed said they were "not sure," suggesting that social attitudes may be shifting. Respondents also said they would see it differently if they lived in America: A clear majority of 58% said they would have voted for Barack Obama if being allowed to do so in the United States.

"The US elections have been regarded everywhere as a decision between sticking to old ways or daring something new," said Institute director Franz Witzeling.

Survey respondents were also asked about what values they felt defined a country’s political culture: with culture ranked highest (43%), followed by tolerance, with 32% and 25% answering "both."

ÖVP Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik congratulated Obama and saw the election as a "signal of belief in the future" and a "moment of confidence" promising "future challenges like climate change and the financial crisis."

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