Austria Considering Far Right President, Because You Know Who Else Hated Immigrants?
Hello, Mr. Hilter!
In case you were feeling down on America for flirting with one Mr. Donald J. Trump, fear not! There are other countries to feel bad about (while continuing to feel bad about America, because WTF, America? Donald Trump? REALLY!?)!
Say Grüß Gott to Austria, land of Alpine vistas, Apfelstrudel and an uncomfortable amount of nostalgia for You Know Who. What were the Austrians up to this weekend? Folk music festival? Post-season ski maintenance? Voting for a far right, anti-immigrant gun nut for president? All of the above?
Congratulations on selecting (d)! Norbert Hofer of Austria's Freedom Party (FPO) won 36 percent of Sunday's vote, while the ruling centrist coalition came in fourth and fifth behind an independent with a Rubio-like 11 percent apiece. Hofer now faces a May 22 runoff against Alexander van der Bellen, a former Green Party leader running with Green backing, who got 20 percent.
So, what the hell? Turns out a lot of Austrians are ready to dump the ruling center-left Social Democrats and conservative People's Party over immigration policy, which managed to piss off BOTH sides of the debate last year. Austria's chancellor initially backed an open-door policy to the wave of immigrants coming from Syria and other war-torn countries, but hit the brakes after nearly 100,000 refugees showed up and asked for asylum. Austria then made a complete U-turn, leading the charge to bottle up asylum-seekers in Greece.
Enter Hofer, 45, a "kinder, gentler" immigrant basher who represents the party made notorious by the late Jörg Haider, a charming fellow traveler (at the least) with Holocaust deniers, SS nostalgists and dictators. An engineer who looks like the love child of Tony Blair and Bashar al-Assad, Hofer has avoided attacking immigrants in favor of promoting "Heimat," the notion that Austrian culture comes only from "natives," aka the descendants of the various sword-swinging waves of Celts, Slavs, Avars, Bavarians, and Franks who descended there before the Habsburgs took over. Wiener schnitzel good, doner kebab bad, or something like that.
Hofer isn't JUST a technocrat, though; he's notorious for toting an Austrian-made Glock pistol around, because why not?
Unlike the Leader of the Free World Barack Hussein Obama, Austria's president has a largely ceremonial role (whew!). But the president can dissolve the cabinet and call new elections, which is nerve-wracking considering that the Freedom Party leads polls with 30 percent of the potential parliamentary vote. An FPO chancellor could cause REAL trouble.
Playing Sanders to Hofer's Trump is van der Bellen, a 72-year-old smoker and Scrooge McDuck fan (really!) who believes Austria needs to reloosen immigration controls. He is also a big environmentalist, so Wonkette is officially #FeelingTheBell for next month's runoff.
Unfortunately, Austria's election rules prevent Americans from voting in their elections or giving their parties piles of cash, and how is that even fair? So it's up to you, Austrian Wonketeers, to do the left thing and elect Austria's first Green president.
We'll be over here figuring out how to screw Trump out of the Republican nomination.