Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer has extended his lead in new polls heading into the Austrian presidential re-run as he continues to dominate his rival Alexander Van der Bellen.
The polls show that Hofer is now leading the former Green Party leader by six percentage points, after the previous election in which they were both virtually tied. The October 2nd re-run of the second round of the presidential elections could play much differently because of recent terror attacks and instability in Turkey reports OE24.
The poll of 600 Austrian voters, conducted by polling agency Gallup on behalf of the Österreich newspaper, shows that Mr. Hofer continues to expand his lead on his opponent. Early polls last month showed a four percent lead for the FPÖ candidate who’s party had brought a complaint to the Austrian constitutional court over the postal voting that had won the election for Alexander Van der Bellen. The court found serious discrepancies in the postal ballots and determined that the election would be held again on October 2nd.
According to the paper, the FPÖ candidate has benefited in the polls due to the recent crackdown by Turkey in the wake of the failed coup in July. The protests by Turks demonstrating in support of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been slammed by Hofer who, along with current Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, has called on Turks to be loyal to Austria first and if they can’t, they should leave the country.
Hofer launched his presidential campaign on Wednesday and his campaign manager and FPÖ MP Herbert Kickl took no time in bringing the fight directly to Alexander Van der Bellen. Kickl revealed the new posters for the Hofer campaign, which stress the importance of security for Austria in the wake of several high profile terror attacks in France and Germany over recent months.
Van der Bellen’s new posters, which show him in a rural part of his native Burgenland, were called insincere by Kickl who said Van der Bellen had as much to do with patriotism as Turkish president Erdogan had to do with human rights.
The main factor in the next election could be voters from the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) who the polling agency claims have the highest chance of changing their vote with 26 percent willing to reconsider.
Van der Bellen is said to have been the main beneficiary of ÖVP voters and their switching to Hofer, who is more in line with ÖVP politicians like Foreign Minister Kurz and Defence Minister Wolfgang Sobotka, could tip the election result.