Austria’s Constitutional Court began questioning 90 election officials and assessors Monday in Vienna at an unprecedented hearing that will determine whether Alexander Van der Bellen was rightfully elected president. The populist Freedom Party challenged the election, in which its candidate Norbert Hofer lost by just over 30,000 votes out of more than 4.5 million cast, by alleging some ballots were opened too early and others were counted by people not authorized to do so. Witnesses from the Innsbruck region confirmed some of the allegations but said they were a long-standing practice needed to count the votes in time and didn’t compromise the results. Along with 13 other justices on the bench, the court’s top judge, Gerhart Holzinger, 69, posed questions to a rural electoral official from the western province of Tirol. At issue was whether the court case was necessary in order to address an Austrian vote-counting system whose complex rules may have rendered it practically unmanageable.Full Article: Austrian High Court Hears Challenge to Presidential Vote - Bloomberg.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Austria.
In an interview with Der Standard newspaper, University of Vienna professor Theo Öhlinger also said that two of the complaints in the 150-page document filed with the constitutional court were “very serious”. One of those complaints is about postal votes being counted in some places by municipal officers rather than the electoral commission as a whole. Öhlinger added that it was also a serious concern that interim results were being published online before the polling stations had closed. The run-off presidential election on May 22nd was won by the independent Alexander Van der Bellen, the former leader of the Green party, who defeated the anti-immigration Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer by a margin of only 30,863 votes.Full Article: Expert: Austria election rerun is 'likely' - The Local.
The far-right Freedom Party of Austria filed a legal challenge on Wednesday over the results of the country’s presidential election, disputing the outcome of the May 22 runoff, in which the party’s candidate, Norbert Hofer, was narrowly defeated. Officials said there was no precedent for a challenge to the outcome of a presidential election in the history of modern Austria, a federal republic that was reconstituted in 1945 from the ashes of Nazi Germany, which annexed the country in 1938. The challenge, submitted by the party’s chairman to the Constitutional Court, injected an element of uncertainty into a debate that has already stirred questions over the strength of the far right in a nation with a fraught wartime past. Mr. Hofer led the first round of voting, on April 24, in which the country’s two mainstream parties were handed a humbling defeat.Full Article: Far-Right Party in Austria Challenges Results of Presidential Vote - The New York Times.
Austria’s right-wing, populist Freedom Party on Wednesday challenged the result of the presidential election it narrowly lost last month, injecting fresh uncertainty into a country already in political turmoil amid Europe’s migrant crisis. The party alleged “catastrophic” violations of election law centering on what it said was the improper processing of mail-in ballots in the May 22 vote. “We have always said that we will not challenge the election for the sake of challenging the election,” party chairman Heinz-Christian Strache said. “But the disaster around how the vote was counted cannot be accepted without comment.” The mail-in ballots are a key point of contention in part because a big margin of victory there helped independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, who was supported by the left-of-center Greens, beat out the Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer in the runoff.Full Article: Populist Austrian Party Alleges Violations in Presidential Election - WSJ.
Austria’s far-right Freedom party (FPO) has challenged the results of last month’s presidential election, which its candidate narrowly lost, in a move that could tip the country into a constitutional crisis. The FPO is claiming numerous irregularities in the election on 22 May, particularly for the absentee vote count, Christian Neuwirth, a spokesman for the constitutional court, said. The FPO candidate, Norbert Hofer, lost to Alexander Van der Bellen, a retired economics professor backed by the Green party, by just 31,000 votes out of more than 4.6m ballots cast, and only after more than 700,000 postal ballots – about 10% of available votes – were taken into account.Full Article: Austrian far-right party challenges presidential election reults | World news | The Guardian.
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.Full Article: Far-right Austrian presidential candidate dismisses voter fraud claims | World news | The Guardian.
A leftwing, independent candidate has narrowly prevented Austria from becoming the first EU country to elect a far-right head of state after a knife-edge contest ended with his opponent conceding defeat. Alexander Van der Bellen, a retired economics professor backed by the Green party, defeated Norbert Hofer, of the anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic Freedom party, a day after polling closed and only when more than 700,000 postal ballots – about 10% of available votes – were taken into account. The Austrian presidency is a largely ceremonial role but the outcome became hugely symbolic. Mirroring the rise of populist parties across Europe, the Freedom party exploited anti-EU and anti-immigrant sentiment in the wake of the continent’s refugee crisis and, despite Hofer’s narrow defeat, the election has left a deep split over the direction Austria should now take.Full Article: Far-right candidate narrowly defeated in Austrian presidential election | World news | The Guardian.
Austria’s political future is on a knife-edge, with the candidate bidding to be the European Union’s first far-right president holding a wafer-thin lead over his rival. According to the public broadcaster ORF, Norbert Hofer of the rightwing populist Freedom party (FPÖ) was neck and neck on 50% with his rival Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green party leader who is running as an independent. Postal ballots, accounting for 14% of eligible voters and expected to favour the left-leaning candidate, are being tallied on Monday, and a full result is not expected until Monday afternoon. Fifty per cent and one vote would suffice to hand the presidency to one of the two candidates. Data from Austria’s interior ministry, which does not take into account the projected postal vote, put Hofer on 51.9% and Van der Bellen on 48.1%.Full Article: Austria election: far-right candidate and rival tied at 50% in exit poll | World news | The Guardian.
Postal ballots will decide Austria’s presidential election after polling station results from Sunday’s vote gave the far-right candidate a slender lead.
Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party was slightly ahead of his rival, Alexander Van der Bellen, the interior ministry said on Sunday. If elected, Mr Hofer would be the first far-right head of state in the EU. A key campaign issue was Europe’s migrant crisis, which has seen asylum-seeker numbers soar. About 90,000 people claimed asylum in Austria last year, equivalent to about 1% of the Austrian population, and the Freedom Party ran an anti-immigration campaign. Some 750,000 postal votes from roughly 12% of Austria’s 6.4m voters are due to be counted on Monday.
Austria’s social democratic chancellor has resigned suddenly, becoming the first major political victim of Europe’s refugee crisis after accusations from within his own party that he had caved in to rightwing populist demands to build fences on the country’s borders. Werner Faymann, whose Social Democrats (SPÖ) suffered heavy losses in the first round of the presidential election last month, had initially taken a sympathetic approach to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy to support newcomers to Europe. But with opinion polls consistently showing that the Freedom party (FPÖ), a rightwing populist group whose success is built on anti-immigration views and and fears of Islamisation, was topping the popularity stakes, the 56-year-old did an abrupt U-turn. He joined his coalition partners from the centre-right People’s party (ÖVP) in deciding to erect fences on Austria’s borders and, working in tandem with Balkan states on the migrant routes, encouraged them to do the same.Full Article: Faymann quits as Austrian chancellor following far right's election victory | World news | The Guardian.
Austria’s governing coalition was thrown into turmoil after its candidates were humiliated in the first round of presidential elections by the Freedom Party, a nationalist force that took the most votes following a campaign that played on discontent with the handling of the refugee crisis. The Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer, 45, who placed first with 35 percent of the first-round ballots on Sunday, said he may fire the current government or veto some of its decisions if elected, raising the stakes for the May 22 runoff. Hofer will run against Alexander van der Bellen, 72, a candidate backed by the opposition Green party, who took 21 percent, according to official results.Full Article: Austria Rocked by Populist Party's Surge in Presidency Vote - Bloomberg.
Voters in Austria’s presidential election Sunday sent a stern warning to the established parties that have ruled the country since World War II, making a populist, anti-immigrant candidate the front-runner. Preliminary results published by the Austrian interior ministry, which didn’t include mail-in ballots, showed that Norbert Hofer, from the anti-immigrant Freedom Party, which is known by its German initials FPÖ, with 36.4% of the vote. Alexander Van der Bellen, a 72-year-old economist and former spokesman for the Greens who took a pro-refugee stance during the campaign, secured nearly 20.4% of the vote, according to the ministry. Mr. Van der Bellen, himself a child of refugee parents, is opposed to all restrictions on asylum seekers.Full Article: Austrian Voters Deal Blow to Mainstream Parties in Election - WSJ.
Austrian voters look set to shake the foundations of the centrist coalition government in a presidential election on Sunday and may give yet another boost to the anti-Islam Freedom Party as Europe’s migrant crisis rumbles on. The president plays a largely ceremonial role from offices in the imperial Hofburg palace. But he or she is head of state, swears in the chancellor, has the authority to dismiss the cabinet and is commander in chief of the military. Members of the centre-left Social Democrats and the conservative People’s Party have filled the job since it was first put to a popular vote in 1951. The two parties have ruled the nation of 8.7 million in tandem for most of the postwar era. But Austrians are fed up with political cockfighting, including bickering between Social Democrat Chancellor Werner Faymann and conservative Vice-Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, and appear to be looking elsewhere for their new head of state.Full Article: Austrian presidential polls to rattle centrists, buoy right wing - Channel NewsAsia.
Austria: 400 gnomes disappeared in Austria, and it’s causing a political scandal | The Washington Post
Last weekend in the mountainous Austrian state of Vorarlberg, 400 gnomes disappeared. Nobody knows where they have gone. But everyone knows it’s down to politics. With regional elections set for Sept. 21, the left-wing Social Democratic Party ordered 20,000 gnomes called “Coolmen” earlier this year. The gnomes, toting sunglasses and campaign signs, were the party’s last-ditch effort to prevent an electoral defeat in Vorarlberg. About 400 of the gnomes were attached to lampposts on Saturday as alternatives to traditional posters, but their mass disappearance by Sunday morning was conspicuous. “I suspect our rival party OeVP [the Austrian People’s Party] to have removed the gnomes,” local Social Democratic Party leader Michael Ritsch told The Washington Post on Tuesday. Ritsch has filed a complaint, and the state’s police forces have launched an investigation.Full Article: 400 gnomes disappeared in Austria, and it’s causing a political scandal - The Washington Post.
The Austrian Federal Constitutional Court cancelled the Austrian e-voting pilot conducted in 2009, cf. the Ruling of 13.12.2011 (in German). The pilot had been conducted in the 2009 Elections for the Austrian Student Association, which is an official representative body. Out of more than 230,000 students, only 2,000 had used e-voting. The pilot was objected to by several student groups as (i) unconstitutional, (ii) using a system that violated basic voting principles and (iii) violating privacy; those student groups then filed a formal complaint after the election. On December 13, 2011, the Court ruled that the e-voting pilot of 2009 was null and void and furthermore canceled those parts of the Electoral Regulations for the Student Elections 2005 (in German) issued by the Ministry of Science and Research that enabled and regulated e-voting. The Austrian e-voting pilot 2009 can hence be considered as failed.Full Article: E-Voting Pilot in Austria Cancelled by Constitutional Court.