Austria rejects far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in presidential election

**Austria rejects far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in presidential election

Pro-European Alexander Van der Bellen increases his lead after narrow win in May election was annulled

Austria has decisively rejected the possibility of the European Union getting its first far-right head of state, instead electing a strongly pro-European former leader of the Green party as its next president.

Alexander Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent, increased his lead over the Freedom party candidate, Norbert Hofer, by a considerable margin from the original vote in May, which was annulled by the constitutional court because of sloppy vote-counting…

The Freedom party secretary Herbert Kickl, who acted as Hofer’s campaign manager, said: “The bottom line is it didn’t quite work out. In this case the establishment – which pitched in once again to block, to stonewall and to prevent renewal – has won.”

Werner Kogler, a delegate for the Green party, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”…

In the wake of the first exit polls on Sunday evening, many politicians speculated that Britain’s vote to leave the European Union may have played a role in boosting Van der Bellen’s lead from May.

Hofer had promised to call a referendum on EU membership if the bloc of states took further steps towards integration, while also stating that he believed Austria was better off in the EU. Van der Bellen ran his second campaign on a decisively pro-European ticket, with posters proclaiming that a vote for him meant “No to Öxit”.

Reinhold Lopatka, party leader of the centre-right ÖVP, speculated on Sunday night that fears about Austria’s EU membership would most likely have played a role in winning Van der Bellen votes in regional districts that profited from European Union subsidies. According to an ORF poll, 65% of Van der Bellen’s voters had cited his pro-EU attitudes as the main reason for rooting for the candidate.**

**The Conference of European Rabbis, which represent more than 700 leaders of mainstream synagogues across the continent, is delighted with the defeat of the far-right candidate in Austria’s presidential election.

“Austria has just passed a difficult test. Let’s hope that the results in Austria will strengthen political forces in Europe which are committed to combat racism, antisemitism and xenophobia.”

The Guardian published this article on Saturday on why the community was praying the Freedom party’s Norbert Hofer would fail to win the presidency.**

The Freedom Party have come up with an, um, ‘interesting’ idea as to why they lost :blush:

**Mr Mahdalik singled out Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, for contributing to the party’s defeat after he said on Fox News on Friday that Mr Hofer would hold a referendum on Austria leaving the European Union.

“That didn’t help us, it hindered us,” he said, saying that an overwhelming majority of Austrians support EU membership.

Casting his vote in his home town of Pinkafeld earlier on Sunday, Mr Hofer ruled out a referendum and said: “I would ask Mr Farage not to interfere in Austria’s internal affairs.”

“It is not something I want. We need to build a stronger union,” he said. He said he would oppose Turkish membership or further centralisation of the EU. **

The likelihood of him been able to build stronger ties with Russia whilst repreenting a party which was originally founded by Nazis is slim. Most Russians would be inherently distrustful of the party once they knew that, Russian politicians in turn know that and would tend to react with at best cool politeness to him if he were in power, at best they might use him as an ally of convenience. However no Russian political figure would want to be associated with such a party from abroad or domestically too closely, it would kill their career very, very quickly.

Never mind, perhaps Trump will do us all a favour and give Nige a job.

I’ve seen liberals and other self-described “moderates” celebrate this victory, but of course it’s a very shallow and hollow victory. They really ought to be afraid that a far-right candidate like Hofer could ever challenge a more moderate candidate. The right-wing movement that was behind the Freedom Party and other such parties in Europe won’t cease to exist after this election, but probably grow, and the “moderate” position won’t be able to hold out forever. The only thing that can defeat the right-wing will be the creation of a strong far-left movement.

I disagree. A strong far-left movement is more likely to give an easy focus to the far-right so they can “rally their troops” against such a clear and present danger. What the moderates need to do is deliver stability, comfort, peace, and security to the people and so defuse those on either the far left or the far right who rely on stirring up anger. People do not vote for radical change when they are happy with their lives. The far right (and the far left too) will appear comical by contrast.

An excellent post.

**Pro-EU Van der Bellen becomes the face of Austria

A sigh of relief went through Europe when independent Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly beat his far-right rival Norbert Hofer for the Austrian presidency in May, diplomats said.

Van der Bellen repeated the feat on Sunday – the first vote was annulled because of sloppy counting – again keeping Hofer from becoming the European Union’s first far-right head of state and prompting what might be an even bigger sense of relief after the rise of populists across Western democracies.

“From the beginning I fought and argued for a pro-European Austria,” he said after Hofer conceded defeat.

Arguing that Austria’s staying in the EU helps economic growth in the export-dependent country of 8.7 million people, Van der Bellen won over conservative voters who might not have naturally gravitated towards a former Greens politician.

“I want to be a president of the centre,” Van der Bellen has said. “Some wanted to assert that the presidential election (was) a vote between two extremes. I must object to this: I stand in the middle of society.”**

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