Friday, July 1, 2016

Far Right gets redo of Austrian election

What's a far-right candidate to do when they lose an election? Just throw a fit and ask for a redo. Odds are they'll get it.

Norbert Hofer, a Donald Trump-style right-winger, lost the election for President of Austria to the Green-backed independent Alexander Van der Bellen back in May. It was widely feared that Hofer - like a dictator - would dissolve Parliament if he won.

After Hofer lost, his supporters threw a big sore loser temper tantrum. They claimed to have found voting irregularities in many districts. But no evidence could be found that the election was actually rigged or that any Hofer votes were flipped to Van der Bellen. In fact, some of the electoral commission members blamed for the irregularities belonged to Hofer's own party!

Despite this lack of evidence, Austria's constitutional court - in a baldly politically motivated ruling - threw out the election results and ordered a new election.

If the European Union is so democratic, why doesn't it intervene and protect Van der Bellen's democratically elected presidency? EU's stated rules require member nations to be democratic. Why isn't the EU enforcing this rule?

Furthermore, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka ruled that the new election would not have exit polls. This is reminiscent of the American "elections" of 2002 when exit poll data was suppressed on election night because it showed the Republicans losing. (This is one of the forgotten stories of modern American elections.)

If the EU wants to regain credibility instead of being viewed as an undemocratic right-wing puppet, it needs to intervene on Van der Bellen's behalf.