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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:59 pm 
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We too elect our president. The election will be on 24th of April.

The Austrian president is mainly a ceremonial position, sometimes called "state notary" in jest. Presidents do have quite some power, but as things are done in practice, theese powers are for emergencies only, and sofar no president has seen an emergency, that warrants to use the full force of his political powers.

In the past we had 2 basic types of elections:

1) An incumbent, who practically is guaranteed to win
2) A contest between the candidates of the social democrats and the conservatives.

This time we have 5 candidates, who according to polls have a chance to get in the run offs.

To candidate you need to collect 6000 signatures of supporters until the 18th of March, so especially for minor candidates it's not clear yet, who will run.

The major candidates:

The SPÖ (social democrats) have pretty much picked their candidate in pretty much the usual fashion. Actually they had been building up Barbara Prammer as potential next president for a while, but unfortunatly she did die of cancer a few years ago. So they picked Rudolf Hundstorfer (who does not seem to have an English Wikipedia yet), who was until his candidacy social minister. That was not much of a suprise, the media had him as most likely candidate for a while already. He is social democrat bedrock, coming out of trade unions, and he has done little that is controversial (other then following SPÖ doctrine) or particulary noteworthy.

The ÖVP (conservatives) did have their media favourite as well, Erwin Pröll, long time governor of Lower Austria. He had been coy about anouncing any interest in the office, but it is part of Austrian political traditions, not to seem to eager to get into an office, but rather have others suggest you. And plenty of ÖVP personell did suggest him. Then he decided, that he really does not want to candidate and the ÖVP was forced to present their second choice. Andreas Khol ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_Khol) is ÖVP bedrock a social conservative. He was one of the primary backers of the ÖVP-FPÖ rightwing coalition in the early 00s, which is controversial even among ÖVP supporters. He is widely respected for his political skills, but also widely disliked.

The FPÖ (rightwing populists, anti immigration) did manage to top the ÖVP in a publicity fail when presenting their candidate. They did not have a clear frontrunner, but (at least according to the media) had internally decided on Ursula Stenzel (who switched from ÖVP to FPÖ when in the last Viennese local elections, the ÖVP decided to dump her), but decided to wait with the anouncement. The information leaked however, and reactions in social media was negative, so they switched to Norbert Hofer (who does not have an english wikipedia page either), who is currently third president of the parliament and who is described as staunch rightwinger, but soft spoken and cultured. I did not really know anything about him before.

The Greens have long played the game of suggesting their former party leader Alexander van der Bellen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Van_der_Bellen), but always with adding caveats, that they fear, that he does not really run. He decided to candidate, but as indepent, who incidently is supported by the Greens. He is a former university professor for ecconomics and his mannerisms did always fit better a professor then a politican, such as taking a pause to think before answering and giving complex answers. He is well respected and liked pretty much among most people, for whom intellectual is not a four letter word, often even if they very much oppose the Greens.

Irmgard Griss (no english wikipedia either) is a retired high judge, and was unkown to the public until she was selected as the head of a comission to investigate the financial desaster of the Hypo Alpen Adria bank (A carinthian bank formerly owned by the State of Carinthia, thats collapse did cost Austria a lot of money). The report of her comission did see gross incompetence in the government, which made her immedatly popular, basically because someone with an impressive title said, what most people already thought. She then was asked by journalists if she was willing to run as president (i don't really know why the asked, propably just to get headlines) and at first she said she'd only do it, if both SPÖ and ÖVP would support her. (so basically if there is a guarantee, that there is no serious competition. The parties did not want to do that, and finally she decided to run as independent. She is generally described as center right. I don't really know much about her political ideas.

A minor candidate worth mentioning is Richard Lugner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lugner) for his similiarities with Trump. He is a wealthy real estate developer (though AFAIK opposed to Trump he really did start small). He has a series of ever younger wives (now his fifth i think he beats Trump there), he took part in reality TV shows and he plays the parveneu to the hilt. He also favours right wing small man populist politics (he said he'd like a SPÖ - FPÖ best for instance). He seems to have more capability for self irony then Trump however, like he is aware that he plays the clown, and this gives us for instance "In the end the Punch always wins" as his reasoning, why he thinks he will win the election.

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 Post Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:27 am 
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So the incumbent is termed out?

Who's ahead in the polls at the moment?

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 Post Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:43 am 
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Yes the incumbent is termed out.

Currently van der Bellen is usually in the first place in polls, the others are in a different order at every poll.

Here is an overview over polls i have found: https://neuwal.com/wahlumfragen/index.php?cid=75#focus

BTW the election system is, that if no candidate receives more then 50%, then there will be a runoff election with the 2 leading candidates.

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:33 am 
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The 6 candidates i mentioned managed to get on the ballot. Lugner barely made it.

It seemed to have been close for Elfriede Awadalla, a leftwing dialect poet, that i have not heared about before the election. Robert Marschall who runs on an Anti-EU platform did not even get half the required signatures but nevertheless he decided to sue for irregularities. Presumebly because that gets him into the media.

There is some discussion on the decision of the ORF (Austrian state television) to not have Lugner in their presidental candidates debate. Prior to the deadline they had ordered a study on the relevance of the candidates and decided only to invite the relevant candidates. Now it turns out that only 1 of the candidates on the ballot is not invited, which indeed looks odd.

The majority of the polls seem to have settled on van der Bellen getting the first place and Hofer the second. The polls are hard to bring in line with traditional wisdom about voting groups and such, and thus my gut feeling distrusts them.

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 Post Posted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 11:35 am 
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Contrary to polls Hofer managed to get the first place by a large margin. Van der Bellen is in the second place.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_presidential_election,_2016

Given the inaccuracy of polls, it's hard to say what the chances for the run off elections really are. Prior the the elction i would have guessed, that Hofer could not win run off elections, now i am no longer sure.

Khol is ideologically closer to Hofer then to van der Bellen, with the exception of the stance towards the EU. So it seems likely that most of his voters will go to Hofer.

While i takled to a lot of people who had been deciding between Griss and van der Bellen*, i do not know if i met a representative sample of Griss voters, so i do not know where Griss voters will go.

Pretty much any calculation on "n% of the voters of that candidate will vote for this candidate in the runoffs" that feels reaslistic comes up with Hofer ahead. But then it also could be that pretty much everyone, who in principle can imagine to vote for him already did.

* I also voted for Griss, to a large degree for tactical reasons, because according to polls a van der Bellen - Griss runoff was a possibility and if that would have happened i would have made a final decision between thoose two.

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 Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 10:50 am 
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The elections already did have an indirect effect, our chancellor Werner Faymann has resigned. After the bad results for the social democrat candidate, general bad election results for the social democrats during his reign and his course change from welcoming refugees to hard on refugees, he got under attack from various wings of his party. It is somewhat unusual that he resigned immedatly and did not wait until a predecessor has been picked.

He got replaced by Christian Kern, who had before been the boss of the Austrian railroads. Also roughly half of the social democrat ministers got replaced. The media in general seem to report it with a "finally some movement" tone.

This has stolen quite some media attention from the presidental elections, that had been becoming rather boring anyway. There really is not much new to learn about the candidates right now. They did have an unmoderated discussion, without any rules about what to discuss though, that was mostly considered kindergarten style name calling and embarassing for both.

There is some media attention to endorsements. Griss at first said she shared values with van der Bellen, but denied that this was an endorsement. A lot of commentators, who had written her up had been disapointed by that. Now she stated that she had already voted for van der Bellen (absentee vote) but does not make a formal endorsement because that is old fashioned, which is considered a de facto endorsement by the media.

The women affairs speaker of the Freedom party stated that the Catholic Womens Movement does support Hofer. They denied that, saying they don't make any endorsement. The speaker did reiterate her claims. Then the Catholic Womens Movement changed their stance to supporting van der Bellen, probably just to spite them. That prompted bishop Laun, one of our crazy conservative bishops, to endorse Hofer. (Cardinal Schönborn, who is the highest ranking functionary of the catholic church in Austria stated that the church itself does not do any endorsement, and any such endorsements are private opinions.)

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 Post Posted: Mon May 23, 2016 12:25 pm 
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Van der Bellen won extremly close (50.3%). The prelimiary results, without absentee voters had Hofer in front.

There is an interesting trend, that the more rural the areas are, the more support Hofer did get. Like van der Bellen won every state capitol and in Vienna he has made 63% and got a majority in 22 out of 23 districts. Even many traditionally conservative urban areas voted for van der Bellen.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:32 am 
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Hofer and the Freedom party have filed a formal challange of the runoff election because of irregularities. The high court will now have to decide which of the irregularities named (some of them are publically known, some not) are actually irregularities, and if they could have changed the outcome of the election. If so they will decide of the election or part of it (such as only some district or only the counting of votes) will need to be done again.

What is publically known is that one district had reported wrong figures to the next higher agency, which by now has been corrected, some people too young had been allowed to vote (but AFAIK only a single digit number) and one person had not been allowed to vote, because due to a clerical error she was listed as absentee voter, one district had one or 3 (reports differ) more votes then the tally said and the local counters have decided to discard that number of invalid votes and a couple of districts have started to count absentee votes too early.

In the cases of early counting and the discarding of invalid votes the FPÖ election observers have agreed to the procedure AFAIK.

Independent of the challange of the election, an investigation by the public prosecution service regarding some of the irregularities is under way.

Sofar the consensus outside the FPÖ seems to be, that the chances that the challange is successfull are extremly slim and that the plan of the FPÖ rather revolves around painting themselfs as victims.

The FPÖ also has started to question if there should be absentee voting. A nice answer to that i have seen on facebook was: "The FPÖ has performed badly among absentee voters, so now they are campaining to abolish absentee voting. Next they will try to abolish Vienna and women."

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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:27 pm 
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arcosh wrote:
The FPÖ also has started to question if there should be absentee voting. A nice answer to that i have seen on facebook was: "The FPÖ has performed badly among absentee voters, so now they are campaining to abolish absentee voting. Next they will try to abolish Vienna and women."

That does sound familiar, somehow.

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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:53 am 
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The runoff elections have to be done again.

There have been no indications for any manipulations but enough counties have been sloppy with their procedures and it would be concievable, that someone could use that sloppyness to change the result of the election.

Basically it was cases of vote counting without proper obervation. It seems elections have been done regularily in the typical Austrian fashion of "observe the protocols, unless it's inconvenient". The usual explaination given was "If did it the correct way, counting would have taken too long". Counting absentee votes has started before the scheduled time, election observers sent by the parties (including the FPÖ) did not come in time and stay long enough to be present during the whole process, but rather just dropped in for a short time. And lot's of people signed forms that said, they had done everything according to procedures outlined in the form, even when it was not case. Either because they signed it, without reading it, or because they figured "It's a prepared printed form, i can't just write comments on it". And "that official, who is sure way more qualified then i am, said it's all fine and that's how we always do things".

Some counties however were able to follow the procedures and still fail to have taken overly long to get results.

Likely the repeat elections will be in autumn. No idea how many people will change their opinion till then. But this time i consider to cast an absentee vote out of spite. (Absentee votes seem to be more work for the election comissions and if they did not do their work properly the first time, i don't feel like making things easy for them the second time)

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:11 am 
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"Everyone fails at their level, Germany at building an airport, Austria at producing envelopes"

The repeat runoff elections have been postponed. Envelopes for absentee votes have been produced with bad glue, and votes in such envelopes would be considered invalid, because the envelope then would look like a manipulated envelope.

BTW i had voted within the week before the postponing has been anounced.

The next date now is the 4th of December. They will use different envelopes and are discussing various changes of procedures.

Even the campains for the now canceled election day have felt very lackluster. Seems like there is nothing to say, that has not been said before. There is some official campaining, with unspecific general slogans and some inofficial dirty tricks stuff, that might or might not be orchestrated by the campains.

Like rumors that van der Bellen has dementia and cancer (i suppose that sounds familiar), in response to which he published some medical records, and someone published that Hofer is considered by our social security system to be unfit for almost any job other then politican and would be eligible for disability payments, if he found himself out of a job, because of a paragliding accident. (the part with the paragliding accident and that he walks with a cane because of it was already well known before)

Overall i guess it's now a race, who's supporters stay home because the figure "they have cried election so often, we don't take them serious anymore".

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:49 am 
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Third time's the charm? It sounds like a shambles. Do you think this will benefit the far right because their supporters are the angriest and therefore the most motivated?

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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:10 pm 
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Hard to say who profits.

Protest and anger voters are often not very dependable. Both candidates have plenty of voters, who are scared by the other candidate, with mostly a reasoning similiar to the broken window theory. If we let one of THEM hold the office, all sorts of other things are now possible. They will be motivated but i really can't judge how many each candidate really has. I would assume that Hofer is personally more scary then van der Bellen to the respective other side, since van der Bellen did have the image of the moderate face on the radical Greens for a long time, but i might be wrong there.*

Also for many voters both candidates are outside their usual "comfort zone". They are likely not very motivated. But before the previous election attempt, most people had assumed that a Hofer victory is a forgone conclusion. So some voters, who previously had not voted, because they figured they will not make a difference anyway, might vote the next time because the result was pretty close. While others might might figure "I have made a statement, so i'm done" and not vote anymore.

Immedatly before the last election attempt the refugee topic had been more prominently been discussed then it is now (which had helped Hofer then) but also we got a new chancellor, who made a "new whizkid, who is going to make everything better" first impression, that has worn down since then, which could have helped van der Bellen.

A lot of van der Bellen supporters would see a Hofer victory now, as Hofer stealing the election (since there is no evidence of manipulation, just sloppiness that fails to make things watertight) and Hofer supporters, who think there had been cheating in the last election, because the election is repeated, both of which is motivating.

I do not know of any polls, seems like everyone is scared about being totally wrong.

So basically i have no clue who has the advantage now.

* BTW Hans Peter Haselsteiner a generally left-libertarian leaning tycoon published a video, that implies that a Hofer victory would be a slippery slope to Austria leaving the EU and thus ecconomic devastion. Generally sort of our equivalent to super-PAC stuff. I have not yet seen the video myself, but i guess that is supposed to drive up Hofers scare factor.

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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:13 am 
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There also had been a repeated election for one district election in Vienna.

An attempt to describe the essential political structures:
In Vienna disctricts have their own "parliaments" and "governors" (different terms are used on such a low level, but i don't know how to translate them to English, without unknowingly loading it with unintended implications). The "parliaments" are elected with proportional by party list, but opposed to what usually happens under such a system, the strongest party gets the "governor" and the second strongest the "vice-governor". The district parliaments are voted at the same time as the state parliament for Vienna*, you get 2 ballots.

I am not really sure how much the "governors" have actual powers or are just figureheads for their parties, much less about the "vice-governors". There does not seem to be any problems from having very much opposing "governors" and "vice governors", so i assume at least the "vice-governor" is primarily a ceremonial post. But it seems to be important for the parties both for prestige and for being able to put their personell into important (sounding?) jobs.

In the election 2015 in one district there had been some problem with vote counting (a discrepancy of the number of votes counted and the number of votes that should be there) and the Greens had beaten the FPÖ for the "vice governor" with 21 votes. Thus this election needed to be repeated too and yesterday that had happened.

The FPÖ won about 2%, while the Greens got roughly 10% more, most of that coming from the social democrats. The Greens are now in the first place, getting the "governor", the social democrats have fallen to the second place.

Some comentators have seen that election as a sort of a dry run for the repeat elections for the presidental elections. I have no idea, what conclusions to draw from it however (and i have not seen much in the media about it either).


* Vienna is both a city and a state.

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 Post Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am 
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Van der Bellen won again, this time with a larger margin (53.79 percent). Here is a nice mme: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNmlgeODug_/

According to arcane wizzardry done by statisticans, the largest chunk of change was from non voters to van der Bellen voters.

Given some after election reactions latelty (Brexit, We voted for it, but we did not really mean it, can we vote again?) maybe we should have trial elctions first and then a real one later as standard procedure.

Overall i guess the feeling is mostly anticlimactic. Much ado and not nothing particulary "interesting" happens.

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