Far Right Candidate Hofer Concedes Defeat in Austria's Election

By Savannah Smith , The Goldwater · 12-05-2016
Photo credit: The Goldwater

Is it a cause for relief or a missed chance to achieve something historic and game-changing for Austria?

Far Right leader Norbert Hofer has already conceded defeat to his rival and eventual winner Greens-backed independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in Sunday's election in Austria. Van der Bellen as of Sunday evening got 53.3% of the vote as opposed to Hofer's 46.7%.

The election has been ugly and deeply polarizing in an otherwise peaceful Austria for the last 11 months. Results were not expected until Monday but an " incredibly sad" Hofer decided to concede early. Hofer congratulated his rival for his success via a Facebook post as he also called on Austrians to stick together and work together.

International political observers were earlier looking at the seemingly strong possibility of Austria continuing the trend started by the shocking Brexit results and the amazing upset victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. Hofer's victory could have dealt a further, massive blow to the liberal European consensus that has prevailed since the end of the Second World War. It could have achieved the same magnitude as the impact of Brexit and Trump brought for the U.K. and the U.S.

Hofer's poll numbers during the campaign surged in great part as a result of Austrian's discontent on the refugee issue and unemployment woes. Hofer took a strong stance against immigration as the Austrian government floated an open door policy to refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

Like Trump, Hofer presented himself as anti-establishment alternative candidate, also offered closer ties with Russia, and even floated the chance for an " Auxit" referendum on EU membership.

Hofer's ally, Anton Mahdalik, a Freedom Party member of the Vienna City Council described the result a " great success" even though they have lost. Mahdalik said that in spite of their party going up against the Social Democrats, the Popular Party, the Greens, and the establishment media, they still took in 2.2 million votes.

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