Austria’s main parties agreed to hold an early parliamentary election on October 15, Chancellor Christian Kern said on Tuesday, in a vote that might bring the far-right Freedom Party into government. In the autumn of a year that will have seen Dutch, French, British and German general elections, the Alpine republic will decide its future course on immigration, labor and social policy and its position within the European Union. “We have agreed on Oct. 15 (for parliamentary elections),” Kern said after meeting leaders of all parliamentary parties. The next election was originally due to be held in autumn 2018.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Austria.
Austria’s government coalition collapsed on Friday, almost certainly paving the way for elections in the autumn, when one of Europe’s longest-established far-right populist parties could win the largest share of the vote. Sebastian Kurz, foreign minister, in effect tore up a coalition deal between his centre-right People’s party and chancellor Christian Kern’s Social Democrats by demanding an early national vote. His decision reflected widespread disenchantment with the “grand coalition,” which has failed so far to reverse Austria’s economic underperformance — although the country remains among the most affluent in Europe.
Austria has decisively rejected the possibility of the EU getting its first far-right head of state, instead electing a former leader of the Green party who said he would be an “open-minded, liberal-minded and above all a pro-European president”. Alexander Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent, increased his lead over the far-right Freedom party candidate, Norbert Hofer, by a considerable margin from the original vote in May, which was annulled by the constitutional court due to voting irregularities. Hofer conceded his defeat within less than half an hour of the first exit polls on Sunday, writing on Facebook: “I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen for his success and ask all Austrians to pull together and work together.” The 45-year-old, who said he was “endlessly sad” and “would have liked to look after Austria”, confirmed that he would like to run again for the presidency in six years’ time. The Freedom party secretary, Herbert Kickl, who has 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.”
Austria: Vying for Their Own Election Upset, Austrian Populists Forge Ties to Trump Allies | Wall Street Journal
Senior politicians from Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party celebrated the upset victory of Donald Trump at an election-night party in Trump Tower in New York. This Sunday, when their nation goes to the polls, they will be hoping for an improbable presidency of their own. Mr. Trump’s win has energized populist politicians across Europe who echo his criticism of immigration, free trade and international institutions and calls for improved ties with Russia. But nowhere, perhaps, is the jubilation as great as in Austria, where the Freedom Party now sees years of quiet efforts to establish ties with conservative Republicans in the U.S. paying off just as its own candidate stands on the verge of the Austrian presidency. The party’s Norbert Hofer is running neck-and-neck with center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in the polls ahead of Austria’s runoff presidential election on Sunday. Mr. Hofer’s victory would give the Freedom Party—long ostracized for its xenophobic rhetoric and past links to former Nazis—the Austrian presidency for the first time.
Austria: Interior Minister says no further delay to December 4 election, dismisses ballot scare | Reuters
Austria said on Tuesday there was no reason to delay again its presidential election due on Dec. 4 after newspapers reported it was possible to order postal ballots online using fake passport numbers. A new flaw in the electoral system would be a major embarrassment. A re-run of the presidential run-off held in May was already ordered because rules on ballot-counting were broken, which in turn was postponed because of faulty envelopes. Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka, however, said there was no reason for yet another delay of the re-run between the far-right Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer and former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen. Having narrowly lost the neck-and-neck contest in May, Hofer could become the European Union’s first far-right head of state. The post is largely ceremonial but the president heads the armed forces and can play an important role in the formation of coalition governments. Asked if there was any reason to postpone the vote, Sobotka said: “No, absolutely certainly not.”
Austria’s rerun presidential election, scheduled for 2 October, may be postponed on technical grounds because of problems with glue on postal votes coming unstuck, the country’s interior ministry has said. The election was originally held in May but the constitutional court ordered a repeat poll after the far-right Freedom party (FPO) successfully challenged the result due to procedural irregularities. The FPO candidate, Norbert Hofer, narrowly lost that vote to the former Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, who was running as an independent. Hofer has led in recent opinion polls. “If an apparent failure in production makes it impossible to properly conduct the election, then it is my duty as the highest-ranking executive of the electoral authority to immediately consider a postponement,” the interior minister, Wolfgang Sobotka, said in an emailed statement. An interior ministry spokeswoman said a decision was expected early next week.
A second attempt this year to elect Austria’s president was postponed Monday when the country’s interior minister said envelopes of absentee ballots frequently couldn’t be sealed due to faulty adhesive strips. The delay must be formalized through a still-to-be-created law. But in asking the government to draft such legislation, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka effectively canceled plans to hold the vote Oct. 2. The presidency originally was to have been filled in July, after left-leaning contender Alexander Van der Bellen edged out Norbert Hofer of the right-wing Freedom Party. But the country’s highest court ordered a rerun after the Freedom Party claimed major irregularities. The court decision was seen as a victory for the Freedom Party, giving it more time to exploit widespread anti-migrant sentiment in favor of its candidate. Recent polls have given Hofer a 4 to 6 percentage-point edge over Van der Bellen.
Austria’s Interior Ministry said on Friday it was considering postponing the re-run of a presidential election that is scheduled for Oct. 2 on technical grounds after ballot papers for postal voting turned out to be damaged. The election was originally held in May but the Constitutional Court ordered a repeat poll after the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) successfully challenged the result. Its candidate Norbert Hofer narrowly lost that vote to former Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen but has led in recent opinion polls.
Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO) kicked off its campaign for president on Wednesday with the slogan “Power needs control”, seeking to get its candidate Norbert Hofer elected on a promise of toughness after concerns over Europe’s migrant crisis. The FPO successfully challenged the result of a runoff vote in May that Hofer narrowly lost against former Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen. The Constitutional Court ordered a re-run, which will take place on Oct 2. Hofer’s slogan is the same as that which in 1992 ensured victory for the current president’s predecessor, Thomas Klestil from the conservative People’s Party (OVP). Back then the OVP and the Social Democrats were mass parties, but Austrians’ anger about their shared politics built up. Since then the Austrians have become so upset with the two parties that both parties’ presidential candidates failed to make it the presidential run-off.
The decision by Austria’s Constitutional Court to annul the outcome of the May presidential election has unsettled pro-European officials and politicians across the EU who fear that, after Britain, Austria could be the next country to turn its back on the European Union.
The rerun of the second round, which will be held on 2 October, has revived the spectre of an elected far right head of state in Europe for the first time since the Second World War. In May, the EU-sceptic and far-right candidate Norbert Hofer lost by less than a percentage point to the pro-EU Green Party-aligned contender Alexander van der Bellen. With national elections coming up next year in the Netherlands and France, where far-right parties pose a significant challenge, all eyes will be on the outcome in Austria.