Though it was just the first round in an election to a mostly ceremonial post, the victory of a far-right politician in Austria’s presidential election on Sunday heralded the demise of the two-party system that has dominated the country’s politics for 70 years.Seguir leyendo...
The candidates of the governing parties, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), failed to reach the run-off, each just garnering 11 percent of the vote. In contrast, Norbert Hofer from the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) shot to first place with 35 percent of the vote on the strength of anti-incumbency sentiment and concern over the influx of refugees. In the second round on May 22, he will face the former head of the Green Party, Alexander Van der Bellen, who got 21 percent of the vote.
The federal president does not interfere in day-to-day politics, but he appoints the chancellor and can dismiss the government under exceptional circumstances. The current office holder Heinz Fischer, a former Social Democrat, mostly kept a low profile as did most of his predecessors.
A victory by Hofer in the run-off would for the first time put a representative of the far-right at the helm of a Western European country. National Front Leader Marine Le Pen of France was quick to congratulate Hofer on his success.