After voters headed to the polls Sunday to elect their next president, Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria's anti-mass migration FPÖ, held a comfortable lead of 51.9% to 48.1% over Green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen. Not surprising, because not only had Hofer beaten Van der Bellen in the first round of voting by 15%, but the polls and bookies had him as the clear favorite to win.
Surprisingly – or not so surprisingly considering the EU and Austrian establishment was unified against Hofer – Green Party, pro-EU, and open borders candidate Van der Bellen made up the difference between Sunday evening and Monday morning. When the postal votes were counted Monday, the election results showed a new, more acceptable winner, just as magically as you would expect in any third world nation.
And while a motive for electoral fraud is clear from the number of powerful establishment leaders who publicly stated their wish to prevent Hofer from winning, it is reasonable to enquire if there are any indications of electoral fraud.
As reported in the Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache was already pointing to irregularities in the number of postal ballots requested, which are notoriously subject to fraud.
Critics thought the possibility of Van der Bellen catching up highly unlikely, as that would mean some 61% of postal ballots would have to be in his favor. A lot of people thought it unlikely.
Apparently a lot of people think it still unlikely. The Kronen Zeitung asked if suspicions about electoral fraud are overblown. Over 70% think such suspicions are not overblown.
It's not your vote that counts, it's who counts the votesThere is also the issue, as reported by the Salzburger Nachrichten, that the government accidentally released figures of a voter turnout of 146,9% in Waidhofen, and over 500% in Linz. The government has been quick to say those were just computer glitches, which will unfortunately only add to "theories of electoral fraud."
And how subject to electoral fraud were postal votes?For starters, there were more postal votes than ever before. FPÖ General Secretary Herbert Kickl publicly indicated that he considered manipulations possible. Even before the postal results were counted, he said "People have to be vigilant. . . Examples from the past show in any case that absentee voting repeatedly shows inconsistencies."
FPÖ's Strache said as early as Sunday evening, as reported in Die Presse, that they would consider contesting the election based on widespread inconsistencies. And Monday morning he furthered that if postal voting results were vastly different from in-person voting results, it would fly in the face of all international experience.
ORF/SORA projectionsDie Presse also reports further manipulations suspected based on ORF/SORA projections that Hofer and Van der Bellen were neck and neck Sunday evening when the count of in-person votes was 51.9% to 48.1%. Does that imply some kind of advance knowledge that the results would become more acceptable?
Naturally the European Social Democratic leaders fell over themselves rushing to congratulate Van der Bellen on his victory over the right wing leader who was apparently threatening to bring Europe to her knees. The world leaders, some of them very powerful in the EU, who rushed to congratulate Van der Bellen were the same ones who had been endorsing him along.
One set of rules for the establishment...The rules seem to be that if you are a populist, anti-establishment candidate, you better win by enough that they don't dare try to manipulate the vote tally. We saw this time and again with Trump as he steamrolled his way to the Republican nomination. Colorado and Louisiana showed that even when you win, watch out, because sometimes the establishment will try to cheat the voters out of their votes anyway.
The result, as I reported previously, is that regardless of who wins the Austrian presidency, the results will ultimately be positive. The President of Austria is a largely ceremonial post, and a win for the establishment only means that EU power brokers were able to band together in a rather perverse coalition and, by hook or by crook, thwart the will of the voters.
This can only wear thin in the face of disastrous mismanagement of the economy and the migrant crisis. We're already talking about an election in which both establishment candidates lost in the first round with 11% each. European voters who are getting more and more sickened by an open contempt for their culture will get more and more sickened by establishment cronies and the likes of Van der Bellen.
The FPÖ is still unquestionably the largest party in Austria. Federal elections will be held in 2018.