Green party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen is the new Austrian President, reports Austrian media as the closest electoral contest in living memory comes to an end.
While the right-wing candidate was ahead by over one per cent at the close of play on Sunday, the count of postal votes today placed the office of President in the hands of the Green party. The final count has shown Green Van der Bellen with 50.3 per cent, and the Freedom Norbert Hofer with 49.7 per cent.
In total, the candidates received 2,254,484, and 2,223,258 votes each respectively, reports the best-selling daily newspaper Kronen Zeitung.
Although defeated, Mr. Hofer remained gracious and hopeful. He said that while this particular election was over, all was not lost and the enormous popular support built for the party was “an investment for the future”.
The election has been considered unusual not only for the so-called “photo finish” seen with a perfect 50-50 split expected, but for the candidates. After the first round in which all but the two highest scoring contenders were knocked out for a second vote, neither of the would-be presidents were from establishment parties.
Going head to head were the Green party’s Alexander Van der Bellen, and the Freedom party’s Norbert Hofer, the first time since the Second World War where a mainstream candidate wasn’t featured in the race.
The election, regardless of result will be a shock to Europe’s political elite, who have seen their sister parties beaten into also-ran position by a populist-right, anti mass migration movement, and a left-green political party. Discontent with the mainstream has been observed to be a driving force behind this move to insurgent political movements, with the migrant crisis having been a polarising force in Europe.
While the narrow 0.6 per cent margin is enough for a technical — if not decisive — Green victory, there have been questions asked about the thousands of postal votes that tipped the balance in favour of the Greens.
Freedom party secretary Herbert Kickl spoke out last week over the “unusually high number” of postal ballots requested, warning “[postal votes] repeatedly show inconsistencies”. The chief of the Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache was motivated to remark today before the votes were even counted that there were “very questionable things happening” with the postal votes. It has been reported there may even be demand for a recount.
Speaking to host and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon on Breitbart News Daily on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125, Breitbart London’s Oliver Lane Discusses Austria’s Election This Morning: