05.12.2016 – Vienna, Austria Marita Simon

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Austria rejects the far-right path

Austrian presidential elections: After the third election the more decent candidate, Alexander van der Bellen, finally won.

In Austria, the Federal President is directly elected by the people in contrast to other countries. The office of the Federal President is, on the one hand mostly representative, but ultimately the Federal President is in a position to dissolve the government or decide who is to be entrusted to form a government.

If none of the candidates receive an absolute majority in the first ballot, a run-off is made between the two highest-ranking candidates.

Previously, there was a very tight victory for Mr. Van der Bellen – the former head of the Green Party and independent candidate for the Presidential election. The election result was then questioned by the right-wing FPÖ (the blue party) and its candidate, N. Hofer, and an appeal was granted by the Supreme Administrative Court of Justice. A re-election was scheduled for early October 2016. A few days before the new election, it was noticed that some envelopes for the voting cards used in postal voting, were not properly sealed and therefore not secure from election manipulation. The repetition of the election had to be postponed again, to today.

In summary, it can be said that this election of a relatively insignificant post in an election campaign lasting almost a year, has repeatedly occupied the Austrian media this year and attracted public attention.

What’s going on here in Austria? It seems that Austria can’t isolate itself from the general trend to the right in Europe, but rather goes along with it. The FPÖ sees itself as a voice for the small man, fostering fear of misery and loss of prosperity and promising things that obviously can’t be delivered after the elections. It seems that the FPÖ are the better salesmen, the better servants of the free market economy, they even act in a social way – but only for natives – and they use it to scare people. Recently, the FPÖ chairman HC Strache made a scandal by predicting a civil war in the short-term.

The bourgeois parties are watching this game. A few from the ÖVP (conservative party) are trying to win the trust of the frightened population with similar xenophobic approaches, the socialists only hold on to the acquired posts and try to justify themselves against the left-thinking youth organizations.

Politicians are becoming more and more uninteresting to people – the people turn away with disgust and take care of their “own” affairs.

Is this what these elections mean to us? Politics is disgusting and we want to take care of our “own” affairs?

We can understand these elections as another clear signal that the system is destroying itself and that there will soon be space for something new. Let’s hope that this new thing will be something with diversity, recognizing the uniqueness of every human being, and placing human beings and their needs as the central value and concern, in a world that is connected.

Rupert Kroesen, Vienna

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