Norbert Hofer’s presidential campaign has called the announced election delay an “embarrassment” as he and Czech President Miloš Zeman propose adding Austria to the Visegrad 4 group.
After the announcement on Monday that the re-run of May’s second round of the Austrian presidential election would be postponed until December, Hofer campaign chief Herbert Kickl said “the embarrassment never ends,” and laid out the party’s plan to potentially take action against the postponement, reports Austria’s Kronen Zeitung.
Mr. Kickl said that although the Freedom Party (FPÖ) would support the measure to move the election date, they would resist proposals by the Austrian government to consider expanding the voter registry by allowing voters who had turned 16 years old after the May 22nd registration deadline for the first – annulled – election to register.
The FPÖ maintains that the faulty ballots demonstrate the need to reform the absentee ballot system, and that any legislation that is passed to postpone the election must also include the reformation of the postal ballot system. Mr. Kickl claimed that such a reform would be the “simplest and cleanest solution”.
The populist party also blasted the ruling coalition of mainstream parties’ handling of the election process for harming the reputation of Austria on the world stage. “The prestige of Austria has been further damaged by a shift of the vote and legalistic tinkering,” said Mr. Kickl.
Presidential candidate Hofer responded to the news by saying that he realised that for many Austrians there was little joy in the vote being delayed even further but said he would “make the best of it”, and continue with his campaign.
The V4 is comprised of the central European countries the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. The group has been a staunch opponent of the migration policies of Western European leaders – notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Spokesman for the Czech President, Jiri Ovcacek, said, “Norbert Hofer has presented his project of ‘a union in the Union’ that roughly corresponds to the idea of extended Visegrad Four (V4) group into Visegrad Plus.”
An expansion of the V4 may lend the group even more power to counter the policies of the larger Western European nations within the European Union (EU), as the group resists the political bloc’s plan to redistribute migrants throughout the EU.
One V4 country, Hungary, will take the redistribution issue to the Hungarian voters in a referendum on the 2nd of October, the original date of the now postponed Austrian presidential election.