Observers of mainland European politics were given a fright at the weekend, as Austria’s Presidential election looked as if it might be won by the Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer. The Freedom Party is regarded as well to the right, and had Hofer won, it would have been a significant step in the march of the populist right. He had led right up to the counting of postal ballots. And then his lead evaporated.
"Gay Marriage" ... "Global Warming" ... "Eco Crucifixes" ... "Red Meat Conservatism" ... "Batshit Conspiracy Theories" ... "Tinfoil Helmets" ... "Frothing At The Mouth" ... "Enforced Sedation"
Hofer lost to Alexander van der Bellen, nominally an Independent candidate, but a former leader of the Greens in Austria, by just 50.2% to 49.8%. How far to the right was Hofer? Well, the BBC has reported that “Mr Hofer had been photographed sporting the German colours of the nationalist Marko-Germania student fraternity, which stands for ‘the German cultural community’ and bears the slogan ‘Honour, Freedom, Fatherland’ … At his swearing-in as Freedom Party candidate, Mr Hofer wore a cornflower in his lapel, which was a Nazi symbol in the 1930s”. That far to the right.
So when the final result was declared, there was a general feeling of relief among most commentators, but at the batshit collective otherwise known as Breitbart London, there was only dismay. This, after all, is the group blog that has unequivocally backed Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and UKIP in the UK, and Donald Trump in the USA.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth was led by James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, who told anyone prepared to listen that “The Austrian presidential election result has been a triumph for the cause of extremism in Europe”. Wait, what? He means it: “We were continually assured by the left-liberal media how awful it would be if the (supposed) ‘far-right’ candidate Norbert Hofer won … But actually the victory of Green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen - on, likely, a rigged ballot - is far, far worse”.
Would Sir care to justify that claim? Del Boy goes further, and adds an Islamophobic smear: “postal votes as we know - especially from the experience of Muslim-dominated constituencies in the UK - are prone to rampant fraud”. And how did that fraud manifest itself in Austria? “In some areas there was a remarkable 146.9 percent voter turnout”.
Sadly, Delingpole’s source is the Kronen Zeitung, a populist paper which has a track record of dodgy claims. And it was one area, where there had been an error recording vote percentages (Kronen Zeitung supported Kurt Waldheim in his bid for the Austrian Presidency. Waldheim’s past as an officer in the Wehrmacht was revealed in the 1980s).
But Delingpole isn’t interested in such trifles - he knows what it all means: “This stinks of a stitch up by the bien-pensant elite in unholy alliance with the immigrant bloc vote. As with the EU, so it is increasingly in national elections: the social democratic ruling class refuses to listen to the people … This cannot end happily. Indeed, it was under similar circumstances in the 1930s that another Austrian-born citizen, considerably more ‘far-right’ than Norbert Hofer, began his rise to power”. Twitchy right arm time, folks.
And then he goes totally gaga: “Voting Green today is the equivalent of voting for the Communists in the 1950s or the Nazis and Fascists in the 1930s”. Yes, just because Del Boy isn’t paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not coming to get him. Wibble.