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The blinkers of EU leaders

Austrian voters rejected the far-right, anti-EU and anti-immigrant, candidate Norbert Hofer’s bid to become president

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Friday, December 9, 2016

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The next parliamentarian elections in Austria are foreseen for 2018; there could be a serious chance that Hofer’s Freedom party winning more seats than its rivals. The Christian-Democrats anticipated already on this possible result by saying that they don’t exclude a coalition with Hofer’s party in 2018!
The next parliamentarian elections in Austria are foreseen for 2018; there could be a serious chance that Hofer’s Freedom party winning more seats than its rivals. The Christian-Democrats anticipated already on this possible result by saying that they don’t exclude a coalition with Hofer’s party in 2018!

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by N. Peter Kramer

The Europhile Green party leader Alexander van der Bellen scored a decisive victory. Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said that Van der Bellen’s ‘victory is a heavy defeat of nationalism and anti-European backward looking populism’. Indeed Hofer’s defeat is good news but Schulz’ strong words may be more wishful thinking than a reliable assessment of the prospects of populist nationalism in the EU. 

It is premature to conclude that Hofer’s right wing party, the Freedom Party, has suffered a definitive defeat. Hofer received 46.7 percent of the vote against Van der Bellen 53,3 percent, however the new elected President had not only the support of his own relatively small Green party but also from the supporters of the Austrian Socialist and Christian-Democrat main stream parties, who’s candidates for the Austrian presidency were defeated in the first round.  

The next parliamentarian elections in Austria are foreseen for 2018; there could be a serious chance that Hofer’s Freedom party winning more seats than its rivals. The Christian-Democrats anticipated already on this possible result by saying that they don’t exclude a coalition with Hofer’s party in 2018!      

The same day of Van der Bellen’s victory in Austria, Italian voters rejected in a referendum constitutional reforms. The next day Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who had staked his government on the referendum’s passage, resigned, admitting that ‘the NO won in an incredibly clear way’.  Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberals in the EP, hastily declared that what had happened in Italy had only internal Italian significance and didn’t have anything to do with the European Union.  

For (EU) convenience sake, Verhofstadt ignores that Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and far-right Northern League party, both EU unfriendly, lobbied successful against the referendum. It looks like that in 2017 Italy will have parliamentarian elections, with a chance that the Five Star Movement will be the winner. And also The Netherlands (in March), France (April) and Germany (autumn) have crucial elections; right wing populist parties in these three countries are expected to make historic gains. 

It looks like EU centrist leaders are not seriously aware of it…   

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