The do-over presidential election in Austria, where Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer is shaking up the political world, looks like it won’t be taking place on October 2nd after all. But it doesn’t have to do with the usual “election irregularities” which wound up giving Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen a razor thin victory earlier this year. No, this time it’s because the glue used on mail-in ballots seems to have mysteriously failed. (The Local, Austria)
The re-run of Austria’s presidential election on October 2 needs to be postponed because of problems with glue on postal votes not sticking, the interior minister said Monday.
“We are going to request that parliament approves a postponement of the election,” Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters. Possible new dates are November 27 or December 4, he said.
The postponement is a further embarrassment for Austria, a wealthy and advanced Western democracy and EU member, and for the government of Chancellor Christian Kern.
Austria has been without a president since July 8 when Heinz Fischer stepped down. He was replaced on an interim basis by the speaker of parliament and two deputy speakers.
Austria has been getting by without an official president for more than two months now so a bit more delay probably isn’t the end of the world. (Kind of makes you wonder how badly we really need one, doesn’t it?) But the reason being offered here may have election observers rolling their eyes. It’s easy to understand how problems can crop up when we move to new technologies such as optical scanners or internet voting, but it’s 2016. I think we’ve figured out glue by now. Of course, anything is possible and there might be something wrong with the ballots, but could there be another explanation?
While far from conclusive, it’s possible that the establishment power structure there is growing increasingly worried that Hofer is leading in the polls and is expected to win this time, leaving the old guard worried about an Auxit.
With just weeks to go, the FPO are leading Mr Van der Bellen in the presidential polls. More importantly, the party are also polling first ahead of a parliamentary election to be held by 2018.
Despite this, the former Greens leader is still strongly opposing a potential vote for Austria to leave the 28-country bloc – an Auxit, otherwise known as Oexit.
Mr Van der Bellen said yesterday: “It’s my firm conviction that any talk, even if just talk, speculating about the so-called Oexit is already harmful.”
The traditional ruling parties in Austria – left leaning SPO and center-right OVP – were pushed aside in the spring, leaving the traditional allies of Angela Merkel out in the cold. They were stuck with the prospect of building a coalition around Van der Bellen and the Greens. That’s proved to be an uncomfortable set of bedfellows, but it’s the only available path to stop Hofer, who is looking for tougher restrictions on immigration and is skeptical of the EU and sweeping trade deals (to put it mildly). And now, with the very real prospect of victory in the offing, the glue has failed on the postal ballots and they will likely delay the election again.
Huh. Funny how the world works sometimes, isn’t it?