Small OSCE team will observe Austrian election rerun
The Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) is sending a small team of election observers to the rerun of Austria's presidential election.
The four person team will arrive in Austria on November 28th, a week ahead of the rerun on December 4th. They will be from Denmark, the UK, Ukraine and Belarus.
Austria’s Constitutional Court ruled that a repeat of the May 22nd presidential election should be held after complaints were lodged about procedural irregularities by the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) whose candidate for the presidency, Norbert Hofer, lost to former Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen by 31,000 votes.
In a further embarrassing twist, the government was forced to postpone October's planned re-run after it emerged that the postal vote envelopes were not sticky enough, meaning they could easily be reopened. Latest polls show the rivals neck-and-neck.
Like populist parties elsewhere in Europe, the FPÖ has gained support after stoking public fears about record immigration and rising unemployment.
In a report, the OSCE noted that it still has great confidence in Austria’s electoral process and that it trusts that Austrian officials will carry out the election correctly, but that the Austrian interior ministry had said it would welcome external monitoring. The observers will be charged with “assessing the legal framework for the election and procedures during the election day".
Previously, there have been two OSCE election missions in Austria - during the 2013 national election and the 2010 presidential election. Election observers are allowed access to all ballots, may participate in all meetings of the electoral authorities, as well as the counting of votes, including postal ballots.