This is the first of the two election cycles I predicted beginning. So far, so anticipated:
Austria’s government was licking its wounds after the anti-immigration far-right triumphed in presidential elections, dealing a major blow to a political establishment seen by voters as out of touch and ineffectual.
According to preliminary results, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom party came a clear first with 36% of the vote in the first round of elections for the largely, but not entirely, ceremonial post of head of state.
Candidates from the two ruling centrist parties, which have effectively run Austria since the end of the second world war, failed to even make it into a runoff on 22 May, coming fourth and fifth each with 11% of the vote.
The result means that for the first time since 1945, Austria will not have a president backed by either Chancellor Werner Faymann’s Social Democrats or their centre-right coalition partners, the People’s party.
Having a president in the Habsburg dynasty’s former palace in Vienna not from either of the two main parties could shake up the traditionally staid and consensus-driven world of Austrian politics.
“This is the beginning of a new political era,” the Freedom party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said after what constituted the best result at federal level for the former party of the late Joerg Haider, calling it “historic”.
The Oesterreich tabloid described Hofer’s victory as a “tsunami that has turned our political landscape upside down”.
It’s very good news for everyone that the Freedom Party, AfD, the Swedish Democrats, and other nationalist parties are rising fast. At this rate, the nationalists will come to power in the second election cycle, in time to begin the necessary demographic modifications without excessive violence.