The Austrian federal election of 2003 was held on Saturday, October 4, and is to date the last federal election to occur prior the the Fixed Terms and Elections Act of 2004, and thus the last election date chosen at the advice of the Chancellor. Called by the majority SPÖ to avoid coming only three months after provincial elections like in 2000 and to head off the momentous gains in the polls by the VA, the plan backfired as during the two-month campaign the VA nearly doubled their polling, breaking 50% consistently through the month of September. The VA, led by former Olympic bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, defeated Franz Vranitzky's SPÖ in a landslide, winning 73 seats and earning 49.7% of the vote in the to-date largest landslide victory in Austrian history and largest margin of victory since the 1947 SPÖ watershed win. The VA wound up with 137 seats, their largest Parliamentary majority in party history since it was founded in 1979, which would only be topped by their majority four years later.
|Party Name||Party Acronym||Leader||Percentage||Seats Before||Seats After||Swing|
|People's Alliance||VA||Arnold Schwarzenegger||49.7||64||137||+73|
|Social Democratic Party||SPÖ||Franz Vranitzky||28.4||131||80||-51|
|National People's Party||NVP||Susanne Riess-Passer||19.7||57||36||-21|
|Green Party||GP||Alexander Van Der Bellen||3.7||1||0||-1|
|New Option 2000||NO-2000||0.9||0||0||0|
|Party of the Provinces||PdP||0.9||0||0||0|
AftermathArnold Schwarzenegger appeared before television cameras and gave a long, eloquent victory address from his hometown of Graz. At the time of his address, there were still eight seats undecided, four of which would go to the SPÖ, three to the VA and one to the NVP, so his position as the next Chancellor of Austria was never in doubt. The headlines the next day described him as "the Unlikely Chancellor." Vrantizky conceded the election mere minutes before Schwarzenegger took to the stage and two days later tendered his resignation as Chancellor and as chairman of the SPÖ.
Schwarzenegger was called by King Otto I to form a government - with a twelve-seat absolute majority, Schwarzenegger's government was seated on October 9, 2003, the quickest seating of a new government in the history of Austria. Vranitzky gave a farewell address the day before, and amicably shook hands with his successor on the floor of Parliament on the 9th.
Jörg Haider of the NVP claimed, without supporting facts, that there had been "voting irregularities" in several provinces, including Carinthia, and that "foreigners" had been allowed in polling places. Carinthia's KVP staged massive rallies and demonstrations in Klagenfurt for two months after the election, claiming voter suppression by "the establishment," and even led a march in Vienna attended by 20,000 of their supporters on November 1, 2003 which was attended by several Parliamentary NVP members. Schwarzenegger referred to the politicians in attendance as "disgracing the institution of Parliament" and accused them of not being able to accept the results of the democratic process.