December 05, 2016
Tu felix Austria
Isn't it ironic that Austria, of all countries, is the one that is resisting the surge of populism, by votingfor an elderly, rumbling, professor instead of a Trump-style populist firebrand?
But we should perhaps not exaggerate the significance of the defeat of Nobert Hofer, who lost the election by a relatively small margin - 52% against 48%. He lost because the entire Austrian establishment, save for a small section of the centre-right ÖVP, rallied behind the winning candidate, Alexander van der Bellen. But the FPÖ is riding higher than ever. Just look at these polls. The FPÖ is the blue line:
Come 2018, the year when the next parliamentary elections are scheduled, it will be very difficult to form a government against the FPÖ. The Federal president can, in theory, refuse to appoint an anti-EU government, and force new elections. But he cannot do this forever and any strategy to override the will of the electorate is guaranteed to have the opposite effect. The election of Hofer would have sent a negative signal to the rest of the EU, but the election of van der Bellen is not comforting either.
Michael Völker noted in der Standard that the Austrian Greens will not benefit from the presidential election, just as the FPÖ will not be damaged by them. Hofer lost because he was only able to get support from the FPÖ and its extended group of supporters. Völker even believes that the federal elections might be brought forward by one year.