Presidential race: Austria’s Bernie-lite beats alt-right


Sunday’s Austrian presidential election bore some distinct similarities to the American presidential race, albeit one in which Bernie Sanders ghad won the Democratic nomination.

The race pitted an unaffiliated liberal, one decidedly to the right of Sanders, against an unalloyed anti-immigrant nationalist who evoked strong feelings of the darkest period of modern Austrian history.

Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent, triumphed over Norbert Hofer, candidate of the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs [Austrian Freedom Party], a collection of far-right activists, many of whom call for creation of a Großdeutschland, a unified nation consisting of Austrian and Germany, and a phrase used by another Austrian-born politician who briefly accomplished the unification just before launching the Second World War.

Hofer, who packs a Glock and called for an end to Austria’s strict gun control laws, also sports a blue cornflower boutonniere, just as Austrian Nazis did during the 1930s during the periods when the party was banned.

From Deutsche  Welle:

According to a exit poll conducted by Austrian broadcaster ORF on Sunday, independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen has been elected as Austrian president after winning 53.6 percent of the vote.

Right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer conceded defeat after garnering 46.6 percent of the electorate.

Van der Bellen had the backing of Austria’s Green Party, but ran as an independent in Sunday’s election. A pro-European liberal, the 72-year-old aspires to a fence-free “United States of Europe” and is a supporter of gay marriage.

During the bitter 11-month campaign, he won the support of many young Austrians and celebrities, calling for the country to be guided by “reasons not extremes.”

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