I wrote this about Austria two weeks ago, and today has seen an astonishingly close Presidential Election watched with interest across Europe.
A few points.
- Austrian Presidential Elections use a run-off system, whereby if no candidate receives over 50% of the vote in the election, the top two proceed to a second round (this is similar to France).
- Typically the second round, historically, has been between the centre-left Social Democrats and centre-right People’s Party. For the first time ever, neither qualified this time, finishing behind two independents (one of whom, van der Bellen, qualified) and the populist rightist Freedom Party candidate (Hofer, who finished first).
- 14% of the Austrian electorate registered for postal votes.
- Of the vote cast on the day, Hofer received 51.9% and van der Bellen 48.1%, a lead of 144,006.
- However, most projections have postal voters slightly more likely to cast their vote than those unregistered; there are 885,000 of them, and all projections assume just under 700,000 have been validly returned – they are counted tomorrow (and, assuming that is right, would constitute 15% of the total).
- Projections, based on the last round and previous elections, can give a profile of who the postal voters are (their age, residence, gender etc) and use that versus the profile of those who actually voted to establish roughly which way the postal votes were cast – notably, it is assumed disproportionately many come from Vienna, where van der Bellen won comfortably, because on-the-day turnout was markedly lower there even than would be expected.
- These projections give van der Bellen around 60% of the postal vote, bringing the vote totals almost exactly level!
- Main State Broadcaster ÖRF has van der Bellen ahead after postal votes by 2900; but private ATV sees Hofer still ahead after postal votes by 19800.
- All we know for certain is it is incredibly close – we should know the final count around 5pm UK/Irish time tomorrow.