Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Austria Election: Voters Set to Reelect Heinz Fischer

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Austria Election: Voters Set to Reelect Heinz Fischer

Article excerpt

President Heinz Fischer is expected to win Sunday's Austria election handily, despite a challenge from far-right opponent Barbara Rosenkranz.

A Nazi-sympathizing mother of 10 and a paranoid conspiracy theorist are the two candidates standing against incumbent President Heinz Fischer in Sunday's Austria election.

Neither is expected to pose much of a challenge, however. And when results come in Sunday evening, Mr. Fischer - who was a member of the Social Democrats before becoming an independent when he ran and won in 2004 - is expected to be reelected with more than 70 percent of the vote. "The only way Fischer will not win, is if he dies within the next few hours," says Dr. Andreas Pittler, a political analyst and historian. "Really. He is the only serious candidate."

Politics in Austria

Austria has two main political parties - the conservative People's Party and the Social Democrats - with a few other factions in play, not the least of which is the far-right Freedom Party and its various splinter groups.

None of the key parties, except the Freedom Party, put forth a candidate. The People's Party, the Social Democrats and the Green Party all endorsed Fischer.

The Freedom Party, meanwhile, offered up Barbara Rosenkranz, a lower Parliament representative who is married to the publisher of an extreme right-wing magazine.

She has lobbied to change Austria's strict anti-Nazi law, claiming it punishes young people too harshly for what she calls "teenage folly." The head of the fringe Christian Party, Rudolf Gehring, is expected to garner up to five percent of the vote, despite his anti-gay platform and his warning to supporters that government forces will soon be implanting chips into the brains of Austrians.

No Hapsburgs allowed

Green Party member Dr. Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen - the great- nephew of Austria's last emperor - campaigned tirelessly for the right to run. …

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