The Austrian presidential election

On Monday, the 23rd of May, the 9th president of the second republic in Austria was elected. That inspired me to write about the elections 2016.

You might have heard, that on the 22nd of May the new president of Austria was elected. All in all, Alexander van der Bellen is the 9th president in the second republic, which was founded in 1945 after the Second World Warded. Many voters say, that these elections were the most thrilling ones.

Before I write about the elections of 2016, I will explain to you how the electoral system in Austria works: I bet you know that Austria is a democracy. Before the First World War, Austria was alwaysled by a monarch. The last emperor was Karl I. After the Habsburgs were banned the First Austrian Republic was founded, but was abolished in March 1938 when Austria became part of the German-Reich. After the Second World War, Austria became independent again and a democracy was reintroduced by the Allies, the Second Repulic of Austria. First, the Federal Assembly announced Karl Renner. But right after the Second World War, to major parties were founded: the SPÖ and the ÖVP:

The social democrats (SPÖ) are the Austrian working party. In Austria we have a colour system, where each party can choose the colour, they want to be represented with. The SPÖ is represented with the colour red. Their basic goals are for example good pensions and to create jobs. Nowadays older people and employees vote for them.

There is another strong party, called the ÖVP. Their candidates were elected the other three times (1986-2004). Mostly businessmen and farmers vote for them. The ÖVP is a more conservative and Christianrty than the SPÖ. Their party colour is black.

For a long time these two parties were the winners in every election (parliamentarian, presidential, etc.). They often had a coalition, which basically means that they cooperate. The advantage of a coalition is that together they have more than 50 percent of the seats in the parliament. But in the last few years, the cooperation didn’t work as well as before. As a result, the presidential election was a disaster for both of them.

There are many little parties as well, such as the KPÖ (communist left wing party) and the NEOS (liberal party), but in the last few years two completely different parties became stronger and stronger. The Greens, and the FPÖ.

The presidential elections took place on the 23rd of April. A candidate needs to get the absolute majority (more than 50 percent) to become president. If none of the candidates managed to get that amount in the first election round, the two with the most votes are taken to a run-off. Until 2010, this was only the case 3 times (the election takes place every six years).

To be allowed to run for president, you need to collect 6000 signatures from random voters. In 2016, there were six candidates: Hundstorfer (SPÖ), Kohl (ÖVP), Hofer (FPÖ), Griss (Independent), van der Bellen (Independent, but supported and sponsored by The Greens) and Lugner (no party, random business man). The election polls predicted that 2016 a not red-black candidate would be the new president.

hat happened? There had to be run-off. The two candidates were Hofer, from the right wing FPÖ with about 37%, and van der Bellen with about 18%. Griss had a few per cent less votes than van der Bellen. Hundstorfer and Kohl were both out of the run for the Hofburg, after the first round. Even if a right winged candidate had the most votes, this was an historic event for Austria.

The run-off was about a month later, on Sunday, May 22nd. There had been a lot of debates between both candidates and lot of discussions within the country. It was clear, that Hofer would get a lot of votes. When I turned on the TV in the evening, I directly switched to ORF 2, where the winner of the election was announced. I can’t remember, if I had been that tensed up before (except 2014, during the Champions league final). And the result was 50:50 % for both. Hofer had slightly more votes than van der Bellen. But that didn’t mean anything because on the following day the absentee votes still had to be counted.

On Monday, at about five pm, the new president was announced. Alexander van the Bellen won with 50,3% of all votes.

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