ONTD Political

Far-right candidate concedes defeat in Austrian election

7:35 pm - 12/04/2016

Freedom party’s Norbert Hofer congratulates independent rival Alexander Van der Bellen and says he is ‘endlessly sad’

The rightwing populist candidate for the Austrian presidency has conceded defeat and congratulated his Green-backed independent rival on winning the election.

In a Facebook post published shortly after the first exit poll, Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Freedom party said: “I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen for his success and ask all Austrians to pull together and work together.”

The 45-year-old said he was “endlessly sad” and “would have liked to look after Austria”.

According to the public broadcaster ORF, Van der Bellen had gained 53.3% of the vote with 69% of voting districts counted – too strong a lead to be turned around by Hofer, who had 46.7% of the vote.

Van der Bellen’s supporters celebrate in Vienna, one holding a sign that reads ‘Thank God’.
Van der Bellen’s supporters celebrate in Vienna, one holding a sign that reads ‘Thank God’. Photograph: Roland Schlager/AFP/Getty Images
[OP: I think the sign is referring to Hofer's election posters with the criticised slogan "So help me God".]

Hofer also narrowly lost the first runoff vote in May, which was later annulled. In that election, 50.35% of the population voted for Van der Bellen and 49.65% for Hofer. In May, 72.65% of the eligible population had turned out to vote, though experts expected turnout to be lower this time around given cold temperatures and a widespread voting fatigue after almost a year of campaigning.

Austria’s constitutional court annulled the May result in July after an investigation revealed irregularities in the count of the vote in several constituencies.

While the court emphasised that there was no evidence of the outcome of the election having been actively manipulated, the confirmed irregularities had affected a total of 77,926 votes that could have gone to either Hofer or Van der Bellen – enough, in theory, to change the outcome of the election.

With officials under clear instructions not to cut any corners to avoid another embarrassing recount, many experts had expected that a definitive result would not emerge until Monday, Tuesday, or possibly even Wednesday.

Alexander Van der Bellen
Alexander Van der Bellen leaves a polling station after casting his vote on Sunday. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

More than 10,000 voting booths had opened across the country on a clear but cold day at 8am.

The Freedom party candidate and his wife, Verena Hofer, had cast their votes in his hometown of Pinkafeld in Burgenland, the easternmost and least populous region of Austria. “I am calm and confident,” he told the press outside the voting booth.

Van der Bellen and his wife, Doris Schmidauer, voted at around 11am at a school in Vienna’s Mariahilf district, telling journalists that he did not expect a clear result until Monday.


*happydance* I'm so relieved, I was mentally prepared for Hofer and now this! :)

ishi_chan 4th-Dec-2016 07:12 pm (UTC)
I'm so relieved, I was mentally prepared for Hofer and now this!

LOL Yeah, I really expected Hofer to win, especially when I read that mail ballot requests were down 20% compared to May. I guess this was due to all the trouble surrounding them lol (me and my entire fam voted by mail again tho).

Also I'm surprised bc it seems voter participation didn't significantly go down either? I don't quite remember what the number was in may but I think it was around 70-80% as well??? Considering how annoyed and tired everyone was of this election I expected differently lolz. I did get my mom to lobby all her non-voter friends to go vote tho and apparently it worked for at least 3 people.

ETA: I looked it up and apparently voter participation went UP from 72,7% to 74%!

Edited at 2016-12-04 07:23 pm (UTC)
hobbits_friend 4th-Dec-2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
As far as I know it went slightly up (around 1,35%).
Great that she convinced people to vote! :)
flake_sake 5th-Dec-2016 09:12 am (UTC)
I was so anxious in those last few weeks. I decided to help with the election, since so many election helpers were dragged to court last time, I figured they could need the help.

Counting the votes in my small section of innsbruck was amazing! Vdb had six times as many votes as Hofer. Not representative of course. But amazing. :) I'm so happy.
moonshaz 4th-Dec-2016 07:24 pm (UTC)

Go, Austria! I don't know a thing about Austrian politics, but the words "Far-right candidate concedes defeat" are music to my ears.

liliaeth 4th-Dec-2016 07:27 pm (UTC)
Hoping that with Trump's election, this might spook voters in other countries enough to take their voting rights serious and use it to keep further right wing parties out of office.

Let's just pray for the French elections...
hobbits_friend 4th-Dec-2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
Trump might have been an example of what happens if you don't vote or vote just as a "protest against the system".
liliaeth 4th-Dec-2016 07:42 pm (UTC)
pretty much, far too many people assume that their vote doesn't matter, or that they're just 'protesting', they rarely consider the consequences of their actions.

You'd think that people would have gotten a clue after Brexit, but well...
sabrinita 4th-Dec-2016 10:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah but if only we'd learned from Brexit before that..sadly we did not :/
lightframes 4th-Dec-2016 11:48 pm (UTC)
I'm starting to think a lot of people in the U.S. didn't actually pay attention to Brexit. Either that or they agreed with it. :/
lokilaufeysanon 5th-Dec-2016 11:47 am (UTC)
I agree with you and think you hit the nail on the head. I think a lot of Americans didn't even know about Brexit/that it happened. I think it ended up getting drowned out by the primaries/election here, unfortunately. (And I imagine there was a lot of agreement with it - or would have been if more people had known about it.)
mhfromnh 5th-Dec-2016 02:53 am (UTC)
I don't think many Americans had any grasp of what Brexit meant.
hobbits_friend 4th-Dec-2016 07:39 pm (UTC)
When I heard he was "endlessly sad", I was like "Good!".

If you are interested, here is an article about that far-right candidate: http://www.thelocal.at/20161204/behind-the-mask-of-the-nice-guy

flake_sake 5th-Dec-2016 09:15 am (UTC)
Me too! And fricking Gudenus spewing bile.

I'm afraid there is no doubt, they'll win the next general election, but they will have a hard time, demontaging our democracy with a president VdB.
sugartitty 4th-Dec-2016 10:23 pm (UTC)
Thank god. Maybe people are actually learning from Brexit and Trump.
flake_sake 5th-Dec-2016 09:22 am (UTC)
I am sooooo relieved! I was so anxious, ever since Trump won the US election, I was almost certain 2016 was just cursed and we would go down the same path.

I was helping with the election in Innsbruck, so I wouldn't sit at home anxious the whole day. We closed up at 5pm and started to count, and while we were counting, we already got the news that VdB was massively ahead in the estimations. And when I opened my envelopes there was just von VdB vote after the other. It was marvelous. In my city VdB won 62 to 38% but in my little corner of town it was 85%. I felt so at home! It was like a giant weight was lifted.

I went to the Treibhaus afterwards, where they had an election party and it was amazing. The owner had been supporting VdB all along (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7o8HNLWddE)and it was brilliant. People were so happy and relieved and joyful.

soleiltropiques 6th-Dec-2016 09:42 pm (UTC)
Belated, but this was really *wonderful* news, OP. Thanks for posting about this!!
oudeteron 6th-Dec-2016 11:17 pm (UTC)
Heartening to know at least one Western nation hasn't lost its brains.
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