Monday, May 23, 2016

Absentee votes deny Freedom Party victory in Austrian election

The final results from Austria's presidential election are now in. With Austrian voters apparently sick and tired of the centre-left coalitions that governed the country for two generations, the hard-fought campaign pitted the right-wing populist Freedom Party (FPO) against (believe it or not) the Green Party. It was like watching Donald Trump vs Bernie Sanders, but in German of course.

The Freedom Party campaigned on an "anti" platform -- anti-immigration, anti-Muslim (although they don't say so as directly as does The Donald), and -- very significantly -- anti-European Union, which is to say they're against the One Rainbow World Agenda. The Greens? Well, they're for all the rainbows and unicorns, alternative energy, Willkommenskultur and the brotherhood of man. [Ed., can I still say "brotherhood of man"?]

A key campaign issue was Europe's migrant crisis, which has seen the number of mostly Muslim asylum-seekers and "refugees" soar into the millions. Unlike their German kith and kin, Austrians have been decidedly unwelcoming to the Muslim hordes. Although only 90,000 or so people claimed asylum in Austria last year, that's equivalent to about 1% of the country's population, and many Austrians -- the majority, apparently -- feel that enough is enough!

As of last night, the Freedom Party's presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, was leading the Greens' Alexander Van der Bellen by 51.9% to 48.1%. The actual margin was 144,006 votes, but there are some 750,000 postal ballots yet to be counted. Projections indicate the postal votes could favour Herr Van der Bellen, and sure enough, the final tally showed Herr Hofer with 49.7% of the vote and Herr Van der Bellen the president-elect, with 50.3%. The difference is only a little more than 31,000 votes out of more than 4.6 million ballots cast.

If Norbert Hofer had won, he would have been the first "far-right" head of state in the European Union. The implications -- not just for Austria but for all of Europe -- of the FPO's very narrow loss are enormous! Although the "antis" lost a close one, the result still adds momentum to the surge in support for populist and far-right parties in other European countries. As well, it gives impetus as well to the "Quit Europe" side in the UK "Brexit" referendum, coming next month. The forces of "progress and enlightenment" are more nervous now than ever... and rightly so!

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