For those who noticed, yesterday the results of the Austrian elections were in and the Far right candidate Norbert Hofer conceded defeat as the postal votes came in and nudged the victory to his opponent, the ex Green and left wing candidate Alexander Van der Bellen.
Sighs of relief all round, the talking heads rolled out to say all was well, the far right hadn’t claimed the presidency of Austria and we were safe. The lead up to the vote had been filed with panic and fear, Godwin’s law popped up again and again as the media and politicians invoke history to worry people about the prospect of another far right politician taking control of Austria.
But the winner and loser of the actual election aren’t the whole story here and there is far more that isn’t being mentioned as much.
Firstly the two candidates who fought it out for the presidency weren’t the only people looking for the job, the Social Democrat Party and the Austrian Peoples Party were also there and both were very quickly eliminated from the voting.
Which came as something of a shock to the establishment, the Social Democrats (SPO) and the Peoples Party (OVP) have swapped power between themselves since 1945, acting much like our own two party system here in the UK. The list of Austrian presidents shows the control these two political parties held over the country.
But both were thrown out and the fight was left to candidates from the edges of the political spectrum. Something that we have been seeing again and again over the last few years all across Europe as voters walk away from the politics and the politicians who represent what is, and instead flock to those who promise change.
The promised change varies from person to person, but it seems clear that change itself, a rebellion against the established system and the pain it brings for so many.
Secondly the winner in the campaign for Austrian president won 50.3% of the vote, FIFTY POINT THREE PERCENT!
The left wing candidate won by a margin smaller than the statistical margin of error which was (depending on which source you read) between 1% and 2%.
The Right wing candidate with a strong anti immigration platform and some ideas about Islam not being welcome in his country lost with 49.7% of the vote.
Our Tory government got 37% of the votes on a turnout that was so low they actually only got 25% of the total possible vote. But in Austria, all but a handful under HALF of voters chose a candidate representing an isolationist, anti immigration party. That demonstration of voter numbers is going to be significant, the new President doesn’t have a massive majority of support, he doesn’t have a resounding popular mandate, he won by a few thousand votes, that’s all.
The next election, the one after that, everyone is going to be looking at that voter split and moving one way or the other to draw in those voters, the political middle is going to be a desert, moderate voices will be abandoned in the headlong rush to either end of the political spectrum.
Add to that the fact that Right and left of the political range across Europe are moving away from the moderate middle to attract voters who are rebelling against the status quo that all too often represents Austerity and suffering and we are looking at interesting times in the future.
What we are seeing all around us is the rise of the rebel parties and a rebellion by the voters, the old system, the Empire, they are seen all too often as the root of all problems. Look at the US, both right and further right are fighting for the presidency and each party has a prominent candidate who is the ‘Anti Establishment’ person, the one who promises to bring change, to get rid of the corruption and self serving greed of the established politicians and their corporate best mates. On the further right we are looking at Trump, on the merely right we are looking at an actual not right wing candidate in Saunders (him being not right wing is why the Democrat party is so anti him).
Here in the UK the only reason we don’t have solid blocks of UKIP or Green MPs is that first past the post is massively fixed, it maintains the binary system of Tory and Labour with blips such as the Lib Dems (who quickly vanished back into inconsequence again). By simple voter numbers UKIP should have a whole row of seats and the Greens could pick fights with the Lib Dems at fairly even odds.
The establishment exists to maintain itself, establishment politicians, who make politics their career, they exist to maintain themselves, oh and their parties. Voters are dropping out and turning their backs on a system that increasingly exists simply to keep the political class and their old school chums rolling in money. When you see MPs claiming expenses to heat their stables you either come to the realisation that you are looking at the new nobility with their boots grinding the peasants into the mud, or you aren’t paying attention.
People, voters, are rebelling against the system and the massive inequality. Austerity that causes so much suffering for so many why a few make money hand over fist. Promise after promise broken, lie after lie believed, and what happens. More cuts, more services lost, more corporate profits.
Our leaders are corrupt, born into and so much a part of the system of entitlement and wealth that they would do anything, break any law, to protect their natural place above the rest of us. People see this, attitudes are changing, anger has been steadily growing, people started by not voting, because, why bother when your vote is pointless.
Now however we see a lot of new candidates claiming to fight the system, fight the old establishment, some of them even mean it. Voters who have turned their backs of the whole democracy thing are coming back out, candidates are appealing directly to the new voters and the disfranchised voters and those people are responding.
This is both good and bad, good because it brings more people out to vote and bad because the moderate voices are being drowned out by those on the fringes who claim to fight the establishment and have the most vocal supporters.
The Rebellion is well underway and growing in size and strength, the establishment has started to fight back in any way it can, dirty tricks and oppression, censorship and law breaking. But those pesky rebels just keep on coming.
Problem is we know what Empires do to Rebels.