Norbert Hofer, the ‘far Right’ Freedom Party candidate – who participated in a passionate and somewhat controversial Europaeum panel debate on Can Europe’s Politicians can solve Europe’s migration crisis ?, has lost his bid for the Austrian presidency. The recent election was won by Independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, the former leader of the Green Party who has promised to be an ‘open-minded, liberal-minded and above all a pro-European federal president’. Mr van der Bellen won 53% of the re-run election votes.
The Europaeum debate mentioned before, was mounted in the spirit of academic freedom that marks the Europaeum’s approach. There was a strong student protest, but expressed in an agreed statement read out at the meeting and a silent protest of posters, with a noisy protest of many hundreds outside the hall. The event was widely covered and may have helped alert Austrians as to how Mr Hofer’s election might have been seen internationally. Mr Hofer for his part has called on all Austrians ‘regardless of how we cast our ballots’ now to work together for the good of the country.