On December 4th two nations went to the polls: Austria held a re-run of its May presidential election and Italy had a referendum. Both were expected to be massive victories for the populist factions but the results were rather mixed. In Austria the establishment backed candidate won whilst in Italy the electorate did in fact overwhelmingly vote the way the polls said they would.
As previously mentioned the Austrian election was a re-run of the presidential election that occurred in May. There were some “irregularities” which were evidently obvious enough that it was decided the election should be held again. The populist, rightist candidate Norbert Hofer, lost by less than 1% in the first go around. Sadly, on December 4th he lost again and while it wasn’t the crushing defeat the media is portraying it as, it was not as close; he lost by 7%.
After the failure to stop Brexit and Trump it is no wonder that the system has had enough. Internationalists of all stripes are feverously gathering together in a bid to stop nationalists anywhere and everywhere. They seem to have succeeded in increasing their voter turnout but who knows? Maybe they cheated and lied a second time.
His opponent, Alexander Van der Bellen, is a former green politician but he has since shirked these views in favour of a more mainstream liberalism. Van der Bellen had the entire political establishment behind him but even if he had remained a social democrat style environmentalist he still would have had this support, and he would have welcomed it. Greens in the end care more about the liberal narrative (internationalism, mixing of peoples, shitting on our ancestors’ achievements, etc.) than they do about the environment. Just as liberals and “conservatives” care more about these issues than economics. And speaking of conservatives: one will note how they united behind the leftist Van der Bellen instead of an actual rightist candidate. Of COURSH! I can only assume that in German speaking lands there will be greater difficulty throwing off the shackles of liberalism due to the Nazi bogeyman that has been created in wake of WWII. The democratic regime moulded by liberals so they still know how to use it to their advantage.
While White women voted well in the recent American election they did not Austria. And as was the case in the US, in Austria the damn urbanite was strongly in favour of the liberal candidate.
Global elite is celebrating the Austrian result now with Germany’s treacherous vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, claimed this was “a clear victory for reason against right-wing populism.” But in the end their victory celebrations are premature. Hofer’s party, the Freedom Party, is still the third largest party and though there is a major symbolic aspect behind winning a presidential election in Austria in the end the president holds a ceremonial position with little real power. The potential problem, however, is that as president Van der Bellen can decide whether or not party that wins most votes in the parliamentary elections will actually get to form a government. Van der Bellen has made it clear he would not accept the Freedom party as governing party.
Thankfully, Austria is rather minor compared to other European countries which have elections looming like France and Netherlands. The Austrian result is a set back but nothing to become depressed about, especially given what happened south of the border that very same day.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi put forward a bill, in April, to change the constitution something which legally could only be achieved via a referendum. The law would have called for altering the composition of powers in the Italian government, reducing the power of the senate and regional bodies. Supposedly these changes would have made governing the notoriously difficult to govern country far easier. This all sounds rather mundane and unexciting, but in the lead up to the referendum, eurocrats and other liberals made a big deal about just how awful a no vote would be. This is because Renzi promised to resign if his referendum failed and because the result is believed to help buoy the populist Five Star Movement. Five Star wants an election early in 2017 and referendums on the euro and wider EU project. Five Star is not right-wing but it is eurosceptic and its populism means it could be used to promote nationalist goals in future.
Opinions are mixed as to whether this result will be a major blow to EU but given the rise of Five Star in Italy those claiming this is no big deal may just be engaging in wishful thinking . Either way the third most powerful member of the EU has been shown to have a massive number of anti-elitists; people who have had enough with the reigning internationalist system. Importantly, many of parties supporting the no side are immigration skeptics . This result further shakes the Eurozone and EU as a whole and with any luck will further embolden populist movements elsewhere. Interestingly, many on the left were against the government and even the EU as a whole because even they realize that these institutions do not care about them. Italy suffers from high unemployment and yet is being flooded with migrants who are then put on an overburdened welfare system.
Certainly if the Austrian election had gone the other way than the combined results would have greatly weakened the resolve of global-minded establishment. In the end December 4th was hardly as glorious as I assumed it was going to be, but we have to take the bad with the good and keep pressing on.