To cap off what will possibly be remembered as a fatal week in the history of the European project, an Austrian court ordered a repeat of May’s presidential run-off election between moderate Alexander Van der Bellen and far-right candidate Norbert Hofer, citing a controversy over absentee ballots.
It appeared that Van der Bellen had won the vote by a slim margin, thwarting Hofer and his Freedom Party’s dreams of winning a national office. Though the position is a largely ceremonial one, Hofer pledged to serve as a more activist executive, running on a platform of xenophobia and Euro-skepticism.
The repeat election, which is slated to occur sometime in September or October, will be a test of whether the right-wing revolt against the European Union and its open-borders policy can gain traction following the Brexit results of last week. A victory for Hofer could likewise be an indicator of even more worrisome developments to come, as France and Germany hold presidential elections in 2017. Surely Marine Le Pen will be looking to Austria for confirmation of her declaration in The New York Times of a pan-European “People’s Spring.”