Austria’s nationalist Freedom Party is taking a risk with voters’ faith in their democracy by demanding a recount of the votes cast in last month’s presidential election, which it lost by a whisker.
Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache said on Wednesday there had been irregularities in the counting of postal votes, which might have swung the election in Alexander Van der Bellen’s favor.
Van der Bellen, formerly of the Green Party, defeated the Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer by under 31,000 votes.
“We are not sore losers,” Strache said. “This is about protecting the foundations of democracy.”
If he meant that, he wouldn’t be challenging the result.
Already some of the party’s more extremist supporters are alleging an establishment plot to keep the far right out of power. Questioning the election result only gives credence to such theories — and reveals the Freedom Party to be more fanatical than they like to present themselves to moderate voters.