It is probably an understatement to speak of a “landslide”: with Rudolf Hundstorfer (Socialist) and Andreas Khol (Popular Party) each winning around 11% of the votes cast, the candidates representing the two parties in government have jointly won less than a quarter of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections. Contrary to what opinion surveys predicted, the clear and undisputed winner is Norbert Hofer of the populist “Freedom Party”, with more than 36% of the vote. At the time of writing it is still unclear whether Alexander van der Bellen (Green Party) or former Supreme Court judge Irmgard Griss (independent), each of whom have received around 19% of the votes, will make it into the second round, for which only the two leaders of the race qualify.
It is likely that for the second round, which is going to take place on 22 May, all the remaining political groups will join their forces against Mr. Hofer, who is much moresoft-spoken than the Freedom Party whom he represents. The final outcome is thus still open- but what is already certain is the massive defeat of the two political groups that for more than 70 years had jointly held Austria under their control.