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10/12/2016

Austrian far-right considers challenging election result

Elections

Austrian far-right considers challenging election result

Alexander Van der Bellen meets with outgoing the outgoing President, Heinz Fisher.

[Alexander Van der Bellen/Twitter]

The far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) is struggling to come to terms with its narrow defeat, and is considering challenging the results of the presidential election. EurActiv Germany reports.

Since yesterday (1 June), Alexander Van der Bellen’s victory has been official. After verification of the result, the margin between the two candidates shrank by some 1,000 votes, but Van der Bellen’s victory remained at 50.35%. It’s been difficult for the FPÖ to swallow and they are considering a legal challenge against the outcome.

The party claims that in some constituencies postal votes were counted not on the Monday, but on the Sunday evening of the poll, on 22 May. The country’s Interior Minister, Wolfgang Sobotka, said that he sees no traces of falsification, but acknowledged that it is a problem that will have to be addressed in future elections, through better training of election staff, who are volunteers. The new Chancellor, Christian Kern, warned against believing “conspiracy theories”.

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Obviously, the FPÖ’s leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, and his cadres are a bit restless. On the one hand, there are numerous voices within the party that think that the relatively reticent Norbert Hofer would be a better bet for the upcoming general election, to be held by 2018 at the latest.

On the other, it is becoming apparent that the newly formed government is starting to gain a foothold and win back the trust of the population.

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As president of the tiny Republic of Kosovo in the Western Balkans, Hashim Thaçi is the first one to admit to being very relieved by the results of the presidential elections in Austria.

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Next up are a raft of personnel changes in the Court of Audit, Constitutional Court and the public broadcaster. The appointments at the two courts could well prove significant and in both cases there are women among the leading candidates. However, one candidate, Irmgard Griss, who could draw on support from the SPÖ, the ÖVP and the Greens has already been ruled out of the running, after failing to make it through the first round of the presidential race.

Background