Voters in Austria have overwhelmingly returned Social Democrat Heinz Fischer for a second six-year term as president.
Although the job is largely ceremonial the election had caused heated debate due to a challenge from the far right, and because one half of Austria’s ruling coalition pointedly refused to back Fischer’s candidacy.
Fischer won nearly 79 per cent of the vote. The expected strong showing from Barbara Rosenkranz and her Freedom Party failed to materialise while the third Christian party candidate trailed in with just over five per cent.
For Rosenkranz, who is said to have controversially called for Austria’s strict anti-Nazi laws to be repealed, the result has been a disappointment. Known for her anti-European and anti-immigrant views, she had hoped for a surge in support.
Her Freedom Party colleague, Heinz-Christian Strache complained that she had been the victim of a vicious media witch-hunt which had been hard on her and her family.
“It was all because she’d allegedly said things that she never did …. all things considered, Rosenkranz had achieved a notable success.”
It has to be said however, the election turnout was very low. With many Austrian’s preferring to take advantage of the warm weather, less than 50 per cent made it to the polling station.