A Populist candidate for President of Austria fell to an establishment-backed leftist, while the globalist Italian Prime Minister suffered a resounding defeat in his constitutional referendum and has announced his intent to resign from office.
Nobert Hofer of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) conceded defeat to his opponent, former Greens Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, after preliminary vote counts demonstrated higher-than-expected support for Van der Bellen.
With roughly 99% of the vote tallied, Van der Bellen carried 53.3% compared to Hofer’s 46.7%.
In the first round of voting held earlier this year, Nobert Hofer of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) defeated former Greens Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen.
As neither candidate received more than 50%, a second round of voting was required. Van der Bellen was narrowly declared the winner in the second round after absentee ballots were counted.
That result, however, was overturned after the Constitutional Court of Austria determined absentee ballots were counted too early in 14 administrative districts.
Hofer, currently the Third President of Austria’s National Council (the lower house of Parliament), campaigned against the continued centralization of power by the European Union, the Austrian government’s willingness to continue accepting refugees from the Middle East despite a series of terror attacks across Europe, and escalating tensions with Russia.
The mainstream media and global elite were quick to warn that Hofer would be “the European Union’s first far-right leader since Hitler.”
Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said Van der Bellen’s victory marked a defeat for “anti-European, backward-looking populism.”
German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, head of the left-leaning Social Democrats, said that “a load has been taken off the mind of all of Europe,” calling the result “a clear victory for good sense against right-wing populism.”
Hofer was “a political disrupter supported by right-wing websites that traffic in fake news,” wrote Anthony Fabiola in the Washington Post.
During the closing stages of the campaign, Van der Bellen posted a video on Facebook appealing for votes by an 89-year-old Viennese woman, identified only as Gertrude, who survived the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.
Meanwhile, exit polls indicate Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has lost a constitutional referendum aimed at transferring power from the Senate to the Chamber of Deputies and granting the majority party bonus seats in an effort to make passing legislation easier.
Renzi has announced plans to resign from office following the defeat of his referendum.
Critics argued the plan was nothing more than an attempt to sideline minority parties and grant increased power to the Prime Minister at the expense of the Senate and Italian regional bodies.
Polls for national broadcaster RAI and the La7 television channel both called the vote for the “No” campaign by a margin of 54% to 46% for the Yes camp.
Several populist movements, including Beppe Grillo’s left-leaning Five-Star Movement, the right-leaning Northern League, and the right-leaning Forza Italia movement, will seek to capitalize on Renzi’s stated pledge to resign. Both parties are highly skeptical of the European Union.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-leaning Northern League, has said that the “No” campaign’s victory would be a “victory of the people against the powers of three-quarters of the world” and called on Renzi to resign immediately.
The vote would “not only be a defeat for Renzi, but all those who serve him – the bankers, the financiers, the president of the business lobby, pseudo intellectual, pseudo journalists financed by the state,” he added.
“Renzi is going to go and with him the powerful lobbies who were also defeated,” said Renato Brunetta, the parliamentary leader of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
Renzi and his supporters have attacked those supporting the Five-Star Movement and the Northern League, claiming both are guilty of spreading Russian-produced “fake news.” Others suggest Renzi’s resignation would trigger a banking crisis and Italy’s exit from the Eurozone.