A warning from this week… May 25, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Cheered by Hofer’s vote, and the likely size of the Brexit vote – whether successful or not – like-minded parties such as France’s Front National will look forward with new confidence to looming electoral contests. Like Hofer, Marine Le Pen is likely to make it to the second round in France’s presidentials in April 2017 and will take considerable comfort from the reality, increasingly echoed elsewhere, that neither of Austria’s mainstream democratic parties was prepared to throw their weight behind the “democratic” candidate when the choice was that or a shamelessly xenophobic party that flirts with fascism.
I wonder though if that’s a flawed analysis. Not so much in terms of the far-right taking heart from this. But more in relation to the other issues addressed.
On the one hand, yes, if the ‘mainstream democratic’ parties threw their weight – or worked together, then perhaps they might copperfasten the victory of a ‘democratic’ candidate, presumably Van der Bellen in this instance. But isn’t it as plausible to suggest that given the clear divisions in Austrian politics with the far-right winning near enough 50% (albeit in a non-executive contest) that the participation of the ‘mainstream’ might undercut a candidate like Van der Bellen.
Because surely part of the problem is the lack of legitimacy of the ‘mainstream’, a lack that the FPO has used to its advantage. I find it intriguing that Van der Bellen is a GP member but ran as an Independent. It will be fascinating, if possible, to parse the vote and see where his support came from. But in being an Independent he too presented, even if only cosmetically, a sense of being outside, to some degree, that mainstream. We’re not unfamiliar with this dynamic in this polity either. Isn’t it telling too that the FPO’s brushes with governance, particularly in the 1980s, saw it suffer badly. I’ve noted it elsewhere this week, that one problem is that far-right programmes are so inchoate. Of course, that is fine if they’re in a minor party position, but quite different if they are the majority party.