Austria will re-run a presidential election run-off on Oct. 2, giving far-right eurosceptic candidate Norbert Hofer the chance to reverse a wafer-thin defeat, this time in the shadow of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Hofer and his FPO (Freedom Party) have already raised the prospect of Austria holding a similar referendum, yet political analysts say the tactic risks foundering on a deep bedrock of support for European integration. Hofer, 45, lost out in May by just 31,000 votes to pro-European former Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, 72, narrowly failing to become the EU’s first far-right head of state. But Austria’s highest court annulled the vote, finding that sloppiness in the count, while not intended to manipulate any votes, had potentially been serious enough to change the outcome, and required a re-run.
Social-Democrat Chancellor Christian Kern said the vote would be re-run on Oct.2. “The EU will be a central topic. Both candidates are clearly positioned and Brexit made this issue even more timely,” said political science professor Anton Pelinka.
“Who will benefit from this? Probably Van der Bellen, because a majority of Austrians are for Austria staying within the EU, despite all the euroscepticism.”
Britain’s vote has been welcomed by eurosceptic far-right parties including the FPO’s ally, France’s National Front.