Defeat for far-right Austrian politician – has right-wing populism had its day?

Austrian far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer waits for the first projections in his office in Vienna, Austria [Image: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters].

Austrian far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) presidential candidate Norbert Hofer waits for the first projections in his office in Vienna, Austria [Image: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters].

It’s far too early to say, of course.

But the defeat of Norbert Hofer in Austria indicates that Europeans are less willing to be swayed by the anti-fact, emotion-driven, right-wing populism that is propelling the UK out of the European Union and will shortly see Donald Trump enter the White House in the USA.

Some anti-EU activists in the UK have been hoping the rise of the alt-Right (who some believe are more correctly described as neo-Nazis) would lead to the collapse and dissolution of the European Union, with new European leaders following the UK’s lead and choosing to go it alone.

Now those hopes have been dashed as, it seems, our cousins on the Continent have more common sense than has been displayed by certain voters in the UK and across the Atlantic.

It isn’t enough to suggest that the neo-Nazis, fascists, Kippers – and all the other political flotsam and jetsam who’ve been turning up lately – are ready to slither off the political stage again. Time will tell.

But those of us who want sanity in our politics can take comfort from it.

The candidate vying to become Europe’s first freely elected far-right head of state since World War Two conceded defeat in Austria’s presidential election soon after polls closed on Sunday evening.

The result is a blow to populists who had hoped a wave of anti-establishment anger sweeping Western democracies would carry Norbert Hofer to power after Britain’s Brexit referendum and Americans’ election of Donald Trump as president.

Hofer, of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam Freedom Party (FPO), conceded he had been soundly beaten by former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen.

Austria’s president traditionally has a largely ceremonial role. But the election, a re-run of a May vote that was overturned due to counting irregularities, had been seen as another test of populist sentiment in Europe ahead of elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands next year.

Voters may have heeded Van der Bellen’s increasingly strident warnings that Hofer wanted to follow Britain’s lead and pull Austria out of the European Union.

Source: Far-Right Camp Concedes Defeat In Austrian Presidential Election

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4 thoughts on “Defeat for far-right Austrian politician – has right-wing populism had its day?

  1. Barry Davies

    What a load of far left tripe, the idea of populism being far right wing is risible after all whichever party gets elected it is on a populist vote, they got more votes than their nearest rivals so are more popular. Tony Bliar certainly got to be prime minister on a populist vote. Being anti eu does not make you extreme right wing or even right wing it just makes you a sensible voter who voted for what is not only best for your own nation but for the other nations in the eu europe as a whole, not interchangable with the eu, and the rest of the world. The wave of anti establishment is not down to rabid voters, but the slef professed elite who think thye have a right to govern and decide what to impose on the populace without any sort of a mandate from the people whatsoever. A return to demoracy instead of the post democratic eu is something we all should all be hoping to attain.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Populism isn’t popularity, Barry. Please try to be a little less ignorant – perhaps by looking up some of these terms before you discuss them?
      If Tony Blair was elected on a populist platform, then he would have played on left-wing populist sentiments like anti-elitism. How do you square this with his party’s claim that it was “relaxed” about people becoming extremely rich – which is an elitist sentiment? Was Blair anti-Capitalism? No. Pacifist? Don’t make me laugh. Anti-globalisation? Again, no. And for his attitude to social justice, just speak to a few sickness and disability benefit claimants.
      For Blair to be a right-wing populist, he would have been anti-EU and anti-immigration – and that can’t be right because all the current right-wing populists paint him as the Devil for being PRO-immigration! No, if you want right-wing populism, look at UKIP.
      You are a right-wing populist.

  2. Zippi

    I have to agree with Barry’s sentiment, to some degree. I don’t know about the terminology. I don’t believe that the peoples of Europe want, or support Right Wing ideology; I certainly don’t, however, I do feel that people are fed up with the E.U., how it is run, which is actually contrary to what it says in the treaties. The people have had little say in its running. How many people, in this country, which ever way they voted, know the slightest thing about the E.U., what it is, how it works, what it does, what it’s SUPPOSED to do etc.? This is a big problem. Being anti-establishment doesn’t make you Right Wing. Wanting to end the E.U. experiment that seems to have run away from the people doesn’t make you Right Wing. Wanting sensible immigration controls and for all immigrants to be treated equally doesn’t make you Right Wing. A rejection of what we have had for years doesn’t make you Right Wing.
    I believe that, had the peoples of Europe, us included, had more involvement in the E.U., this situation would not have arisen. Had our governments listened to us, we would not be in this situation. Had the E.U. leaders, tucked up far way followed the letter of the treaties, we would not be in this situation. Far Right parties are merely taking advantage of people’s disquiet but the truth is that they are not actually wanted. What is wanted is for the more temperate parties to sit up and take notice and govern in the interests of the people, to put people first, after all, without the people, what have you?

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