Friday, July 1, 2016

Austria is about to become the EU's whipping boy - again

The Austrian Constitutional Court has ordered a re-run of the recent presidential election in which the Green candidate won narrowly over the so-called far right candidate from the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs or FPÖ because of "irregularities in counting postal votes".

In fact, the President of Austria has very limited power and the election is little more than symbolic of the general peasants' revolt that is going on in the West. (No, I don't really think the Brexit vote comes quite into that category but that needs to be discussed separately.) Naturally, since this party is not part of the political establishment it is described as far-right and populist, which once again raises the question of when does democratic become populist? Aristotle had some very clear distinctions between democracy and demagoguery but the modern line between the two tends to be whether the party agrees with a rather narrow range of "acceptable" opinions. There is no particular evidence for instance that Norbert Hofer, "the gun-toting candidate of the far-Right Freedom Party (FPÖ)" intends to overrule the legal or constitutional system of Austria.

When one looks at the ideology of the party one finds something of a muddle (and isn't that true, alas, for most parties?). They are liberal and pan-German, they are for individual freedom (gosh, how very "fascist" of them), smaller government and low taxation but also for increased welfare. They are, above all, eurosceptic though not withdrawalist.

Well, this should be an interesting re-run of the election and an interesting time for the EU who has just acquired another headache.

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