Voters in Austria narrowly elected Green Party candidate Alexander van der Bellen after mail-in ballots pushed him over the top to a narrow 50.2 – 49.8 victory.
van der Bellen’s opponent, Norbert Hofer, held a narrow lead after in-person ballots were counted in an instant runoff on Sunday.
The fact that Hofer held any lead at all was alarming, given that he leads the far-right Freedom Party. Hofer had run on an anti-European Union (and, by extension, pro-Putin) platform, making immigration restrictions from Muslim-majority countries one of his signature issues. He has also called for repatriating the Italian territory of South Tyrol, which used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Nationalist calls for the repatriation of land to Austria squares with the Freedom Party’s roots. The party was founded in 1956 by Anton Reinthaller, a former Nazi Minister of Agriculture and SS officer, as a consolidation of hyper-nationalist parties that had formed following World War II.
Hofer is very much a political figure in the mold of Reinthaller. As Business Insider notes, had Hofer won he would have been the first far-right European head of state since Francisco Franco in Spain. And while Austria’s president is largely a figurehead, Hofer had promised to push the limits of his powers in office, attending EU meetings and throwing a wrench in trade deals that had been worked out elsewhere in the government. In short, his election would have been significant and jarring for the European political landscape.
The combination of taking a hard line on immigration — which in Europe is shorthand for scaremongering about refugees from majority-Muslim countries — and replacing skepticism of Putin with skepticism of trade deals had led Hofer to be dubbed the Donald Trump of Austria. That association may explain why Breitbart’s homepage this morning looked like this:
That’s right: Breitbart is very sad that the pro-Putin candidate from the party founded by an SS officer lost, because that candidate hates Arab Muslims as much as Donald Trump does. In their view, van der Bellen is the radical one, and it’s a shame that he eked out the win…because he’s nicer to brown people than the neo-Nazi candidate. Or something.
And they wonder why Facebook doesn’t consider them a legitimate news source.