Austria's Freedom Party: 'The result of the election could change'
In the aftermath of Austria's deeply flawed presidential election, which was likely stolen from the right-of-center Freedom Party, the problems continue to come to light.
According to a report in the Austrian media late Sunday night:
"We are going to get the countless indications (of irregularities) looked at by an independent, neutral body and then decide" whether to challenge the result, Freedom Party (FPO) head Heinz-Christian Strache said.
"There are lots of indications coming from voters, and so far five criminal complaints where the law was obviously broken," he told the populist Kronen-Zeitung daily in an interview published on Sunday.
"The result of the election could change," Strache said.
The next day, the Austrian government -- which many think might be complicit in potential election fraud -- released statements that "it does not expect the recent presidential election will be need to be repeated" and that "Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Monday that it's probable there 'will be no shift in the result' of the election, although the final decision over whether the irregularities could have influenced the result will be taken by court authorities."
Of course, the question remains as to whether the Austrian courts are truly independent on this question, or if sufficient political bias exists within the judiciary such that the results need to be assessed by an international team that includes conservatives who are not opposed to the Freedom Party's ideology.
A petition by Freedom Party supporters contesting the results has reached nearly 30,000 signatures, which is significant for a small country such as Austria. If a similar proportion of the U.S. population signed a petition, it would be at 1.1 million and counting.
While unspecified "experts" interviewed by some Austrian media sources claim the multiple problems are unlikely to have swayed the vote away from the Freedom Party, these comments are unconvincing given the hard evidence at hand.
After the in-person polling had been counted, which comprised about 85% of the total vote, the Freedom Party candidate -- Norbert Hofer -- was leading 51.9-to-48.1%. But after the "postal vote" was counted the next day, despite apparently having been opened earlier than statutorily allowed and thereby subject to potential tampering, the Green Party candidate -- Alexander Van der Bellen -- was declared the final winner with an overall 50.35-to-49.65% reversal in his favor.
The change in election result due to the absentee ballot required Van der Bellen to have won the postal vote by an extremely large margin (~25%) that is out-of-character with the pattern of regional results, and which appears to have been practically impossible unless defenders of the result can offer a sensible explanation as to why the absentee ballots were so singularly biased in Van der Bellen's favor.
Tensions are rising in the European nation as the nature of the potential denial of democracy settles in on the populace. Freedom Party representatives have been asking supporters to avoid violence if the result is not their liking, but the frustration is understandable given that this is the clearest example yet of possible national election fraud in a Western state since democracy became the norm.