The newly elected Austrian President, Alexander Van der Bellen ran as an independent, but was financially backed up by the Green Party, which he had previously been a leader of.
He managed to beat Norbert Hofer, the leader for the far-right Freedom Party, but with only a majority of 31,000 votes.
The close election result in Austria illustrated how deeply divided the country is between left and right https://t.co/E646OTZwgM
— The New York Times (@nytimes) 24 May 2016
Since the two presidential candidates were far from each other on the political spectrum, the election result was for some a relief and for others a huge disappointment.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) 23 May 2016
Austria’s presidency is a largely ceremonial post and is thus significant in relation to which image Austria wants to have internationally.
Many of Mr. Van der Bellen’s supporters therefore feared that having a far-right president would harm Austria’s reputation.
The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been quoted saying it was a ‘relief’ to see Austrians ‘reject populism and extremism.’
— The Independent (@Independent) 23 May 2016
The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said all of Europe was ‘breathing more easily’ because Mr. Hofer had lost.
In general the recent presidential election in Austria has been an unsual one.
In April neither of the country’s most established parties managed to get even a quarter of the popular vote in the first round of presidential elections, which was the first time since 1945.
Then in the beginning of May the social democratic chancellor, Werner Faymann, decided to resign, which many saw as a symptom for a general political crisis in Austria.
After the chancellor’s announcement, Sebastian, a young Austrian living in Vienna, gave his opinion to londonmultimedianews about how Austria ended up in this political situation.
Alexander Van der Bellen is very much aware about the political polarisation among Austria’s voting population.
He stressed in his victory speech that he will ‘work towards winning the trust of Norbert Hofer’s voters,’ and try to be ‘a non-partisan president for all the people in Austria.’
Written by Louise Tjaerandsen
Update 1st July 2016