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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 12:17 pm 
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Jeremy Corbyn. Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders. There has undoubtedly been a surge in unconventional political candidates over the past year.

In Austria, it has just been confirmed after a knife-edge election count that independent green candidate Alexander van der Bellen has defeated the Freedom Party of Austria's Norbert Hofer. What is just as significant about the actual result is that the candidates of Austria's two mainstream political parties were knocked out of the top two spots by van der Bellen and Hofer.

Hofer is a Euroskeptic who said during the campaign that he would not attend EU summits if elected, and that "Islam has no place in Austria". But like many Euroskeptics, he has expressed opposition to free trade deals. Or, as the BBC article I linked to above explains:

Quote:
"Austria First" is the Freedom Party slogan. They describe themselves as a party of the centre, of the Austrian people, neither right nor left wing.

That's something Marine Le Pen of France likes to say about her National Front party too.

And like the French National Front, the Freedom Party has invested in a makeover in order to appeal to discontented mainstream voters.

Despite failing to make it to the presidential palace, it will interpret this vote as a huge success.

Once relegated to the far-right fringes, the Freedom Party is now deemed politically viable by half of all Austrian voters.

"This is far more a European problem than an Austrian problem, Austrian diplomat Wolfgang Petritsch told me. "These parties have managed to make it OK, normal to vote for them. It's not a big deal anymore. And that is what is so dangerous."

The Freedom Party is now looking ahead to Austria's general election.

It is currently polling as the country's most popular party.

Conceding defeat today, Mr Hofer said his party would live to fight another day.

"Of course I am saddened," he said on Facebook. "But please don't be disheartened. The effort in this election campaign is not wasted. It is an investment for the future."

But Hannes Androsch is dismissive.

"Yes, they've made it to the mainstream as a party of protest," he told me "But building up Austria to be a fairytale castle that needs to be defended is no plan for the future.

"This is a wake-up call for the traditional parties in Austria - and in Europe as a whole - to address their voters' concerns.

"But the window of opportunity to do this is a narrow one."


I suspect that we will see stories like this play out many times over the next few years.


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 1:55 pm 
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It has been very interesting to see this play out all over the world. I don't think there is any real chance that Sanders will end up winning the Democratic nomination (unless Clinton implodes), but if he did, I suspect the U.S. election would be split similarly to Austria's.

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 5:03 am 
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There have always been unconventional/anti-establishment politicians; the big change has been that they are getting enough support from the electorate to make waves.

I think this is because economies all over the world are exerting pressure on more and more people, while at the same time the established political parties have moved closer together and embraced neo-con ideas - even the liberal/progressive parties have moved to the right. In some countries there is not much to distinguish between the centr(ish) left and centr(ish) right parties, and the electorate then has no alternative but to turn to those outside the political establishment in order to register dissatisfaction. Austria is probably the best example, as the left and right were actually in coalition.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:30 am 
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The results from the German federal election are in. It looks like Angela Merkel’s governing CDU/CSU Coalition will be returned to power, although with significant losses. The big news internationally is the rise of the right-wing anti-establishment Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has won seats for the first time. Germany has mixed single-seat constituencies/party list proportional representation system, where parties must get 5% of the vote or win 3 constituencies to qualify for party list seats. C_G will also be pleased to hear that the classical liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) has returned to the Bundestag after being shut out at the last election.

Results as they stand:

CDU/CSU (conservative government) – 246 seats (down 65)
SDP (centre-left opposition) – 153 seats (down 40)
AfD – 94 seats (up 94)
FDP – 80 seats (up 80)
The Left – 69 seats (up 5)
The Greens – 67 seats (up 4)

AfD’s success is being put down to frustration about immigration and border security, and their strongest performance appears to have been in Saxony in the country’s east.


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