March 1, 2024

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Austrian SPÖ shares wrong leadership survey winner after Excel error

A major Austrian opposition political party on Monday corrected the results of a hotly contested leadership election after announcing the wrong winner over the weekend due to a “technical” error: someone bugged an Excel spreadsheet.

The Austrian Social Democrats announced at a conference on Saturday that Hans-Peter Doskozil, governor of the eastern province of Burgenland, is the new leader of the centre-left party. But the party said on Monday that Andreas Babler, a small-town mayor and lesser-known figure, had already won about 52 percent of the vote.

“Unfortunately, the paper ballot papers did not match the result announced digitally,” Mikaela Grubisa, head of the SPÖ election commission, said at a press conference. “Due to a technical error from a colleague on the Excel list, the result was mixed.”

Those familiar with Microsoft’s spreadsheet software, which is used by millions around the world, were quick to crack the joke, bringing wider attention to the error and the ensuing chaos.

Babler said in a press conference after his apparently belated victory that the committee Count the vote again For the sake of accuracy, it was reported by local media, adding that the disaster was “painful for all concerned” and bad for the party’s image.

“I feel sorry not only for Hans-Peter Doskozil, but for the whole movement,” he said.

The spreadsheet misstep threatens to further erode confidence in the Social Democrats, Austria’s largest federal opposition grouping, despite the dissatisfaction with the country’s ruling party, which has had to deal with the scandal.

Since 2020, the conservative People’s Party has led Austria in a coalition government with the Green Party. In the last round of parliamentary elections in 2019, SPÖ won 21.2% of the popular vote. He has not held power in the federal legislature since 2017.

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The change of leadership comes as the SPÖ prepares for another federal election, which must be held by the end of 2024. Some of its opponents have seized the situation as an opportunity to criticize the SPÖ’s shortcomings.

Douglas Hoyos, a member of the centrist NEOS party, said parties that cannot properly organize internal elections cannot win national elections, on Twitter. “The Austrians deserve better,” he added.

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Saturday’s row wasn’t the first time an Excel bug has undermined an election. In 2007, a rights group said poll counters internally reported the wrong winner in a Scottish election after failing to count All votes for a particular party in an Excel sheet, The Guardian mentioned. Local officials disputed this account.

Some Twitter users on Monday offered to help SPÖ get out.

A user tagged an SPÖ account in a post Announcing an Excel course for beginners in Vienna.

The latest posting appears to be an Amazon order confirmation for the “Excel for Dummies” book – to be shipped to the SPÖ office. “This is it All I can do As a simple citizen,” the user wrote.