The failed far-right contender in Austria’s presidential election has urged his supporters to accept the result despite some in his party alleging fraud. “We should all pull together,” Norbert Hofer said at a Freedom party (FPÖ) meeting in Vienna on Tuesday. “There are no signs of electoral fraud.” In the immediate aftermath of the vote, FPÖ leaders and activists had cried foul over the narrow result, with the Green-endorsed independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen winning by only about 31,000 votes. Even before it emerged that Hofer had lost out on the presidency due to Van der Bellen’s strong performance in the postal vote, the party’s secretary, Herbert Kickl, had said that absentee votes had in the past shown up “inconsistencies”. “Accomplices of the current political system could potentially use the opportunity to adjust the result in favour of the system’s representative, Alexander Van der Bellen,” Kickl said.
On his Facebook page, the party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, seized on irregularities in Linz and Waidhofen, where the final result announced a voter turnout of 146.9%. The interior ministry said the figure was the result of a data entry error.
Hofer too, whose election would have confronted the EU with a far-right president for the first time, said on Sunday night that there was “something a little bit strange in the way the postal vote is counted”.
The FPÖ, whose 49.7% in the final result represents a huge shift in Austria’s political landscape, will now set its sights on the next general election, which must be held before September 2018.