In Austria, elections are actually rigged – out of incompetence.
The Social Democrats (SPÖ) said they declared the wrong candidate the winner in a painful party election at the weekend.
In place of Hans-Peter Doskozil, the populist ruler of eastern Burgenland, the small left-wing town’s mayor, Andreas Babler, will take charge of the country’s oldest party.
About 600 SPÖ delegates voted in an extraordinary party convention on Saturday. Doskozil celebrated what appeared to be a clear victory, with 53 percent of the vote. In fact, Babler won 53 percent to Doskozil’s 47 percent, according to adjusted balance.
What exactly led to the strange turn of events remained unclear until late Monday. The SPD’s election director Mikaela Grubisa offered a confused explanation at a news conference, blaming a “technical error by a colleague with an Excel table” while tabulating the results.
The error was discovered during Monday’s recount, due to which not a single vote was counted in the original count on Saturday.
“It is important for me to confirm that there were no mistakes during the election itself or in the work of the Election Commission,” Grubisa said, adding that she regretted not asking for a recount over the weekend to ensure no mistakes occurred. .
Doskozil said he would accept the new result, even though it had been a “tough day”.
“This is the result of the party conference,” he said.
Less clear, however, is whether electoral failure will push the party, long a pillar of Austrian democracy, into deeper turmoil. The party is currently second only to the far-right Freedom Party and SPÖ supporters had hoped the leadership vote would give the party a new impetus.
The years-long battle between Doskozil and former party leader Pamela Rende Wagner over the direction of the party and who should run it marked the beginning of the election weekend. Rendi-Wagner finished third in the membership vote last month and dropped out of the race, doubling the weekend at the party convention.
Most Austrians had not heard of Babler, a former mechanic, until a few weeks ago. However, his campaign as an outspoken man of the people appears to have resonated with the party base.
However, it seemed to falter in the final stretch after 2020 Podcast interview He appeared to describe the European Union as “the most aggressive foreign policy military alliance ever,” adding that the bloc was “worse than NATO.”
He also created confusion when he declared himself a Marxist in a television interview and then insisted that he was not.
“I don’t understand the fuss,” Babler said. “I don’t do anything but talk about Marxism.”
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