European Union and Diplomatic Affairs

Green candidate wins Austrian election

Alexander van der Bellen, 28.11.2005

Alexander Van der Bellen. Image: Die Grünen

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.

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.

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 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. 

Austrian Parliament building in Vienna. Image: Jean Fonseca, Creative Commons licence.

Austrian Parliament building in Vienna. Image: Jean Fonseca, Creative Commons licence.

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

Austrian presidential election result overturned and must be held again


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