Anti-immigration candidate Norbert Hofer conceded the Austrian presidential election to independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in an election that will bring a sigh of relief to Brussels.
The Financial Times reports Far Right Concede Defeat in Austrian Presidential Election.
Norbert Hofer, the Freedom party candidate, won 46.7 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s contest according to early results and projections. His opponent Alexander Van der Bellen, a Green politician who ran as an independent, won 53.3 per cent.
If the forecasts are correct, Mr Van der Bellen would have increased his lead after narrowly winning against Mr Hofer when the election was first run in May.
The result will come as a relief for Europe’s mainstream political leaders, suggesting support for political disruption may have reached a limit following Mr Trump’s election and the UK vote to leave the EU.
“The narrative of these forces being unstoppable has been broken — or at least stalled,” said Thomas Hofer, political analyst in Vienna. “It lifts some of the pressure and gloom about where Europe is going.”
Nevertheless the strong showing by the Freedom party — which was founded by former Nazis in the 1950s — is still likely to be seen as a boost for Marine Le Pen, leader of the France’s National Front ahead of her country’s presidential election next year. Herbert Kickl, who ran Mr Hofer’s campaign, described the vote as “historic” for the Freedom party.
Brussels Relief Will Be Short-Lived
Other than ability to dissolve parliament, the Austrian president is a largely symbolic position. Real power lies with the chancellor.
Hofer got close to 47% of the vote. Van der Bellen got 53% but he is a Green candidate running as an independent.
The center-left, center right, and the Greens all voted for Van der Bellen. In a four-way race, this would not have been close.
For the first time since WWII both the center-left and center-right parties were knocked out of the election.
Heinz-Christian Strache On Deck
The leader of the Freedom Party is not Hofer, but rather Heinz-Christian Strache.
The next parliamentary election is scheduled for September 2018, but the article suggests elections “widely expected to be called early”.
The Freedom Party is highly likely to come out on top in the next election given the number of parties that will field candidates.
However, Strache would still have to form a coalition unless he can get an outright majority of the votes.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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