Bundespräsidentenwiederholungswahlverschiebung wins the award for this week’s most interesting word.
The tongue twister translates literally to President repeat election postponement and was referenced in a Wall Street Journal article. The story was about Austria’s recent decision to postpone the rerun of its already once delayed presidential election a second time, now due to problems with the glue on mail-in ballots.
Austria’s elections come unglued
Austria’s politics are coming unstuck. Or more precisely, unglued.
Special envelopes designed to hold mail-in ballots for the Oct. 2 runoff presidential election are rimmed with a glue that should seal them tight. But it is mysteriously malfunctioning, and that has provoked a crisis, which in the words of one TV anchor is leading to a “Bundespräsidentenwiederholungswahlverschiebung”—the postponement of the rerun of the presidential election.
— The Wall Street Journal
Austria has been having a hard time electing a new president. In April, anti-immigrant presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer was the surprise winner of the first round of the presidential election but lost a tightly contested runoff in May. However, Hofer challenged the results based on alleged irregularities in how mail-in ballots were counted. In July, Austria’s high court nullified the May election and ordered a new election, which was set for October 2nd.
Anti-immigrant candidate leading in polls
A Gallup poll commissioned by the Österreich newspaper showed that Mr. Hofer, the anti-immigrant candidate of the Freedom Party was favored by a majority of voters and predicted a turnout of 84%, some ten points higher than the turnout in May. The Austrian political establishment was reported to be increasingly concerned about how the election of an anti-immigrant president would look to the rest of Europe.
Now, a new controversy has emerged over the glue used to seal mail-in ballots that allegedly causes them to become unsealed. As a result, the government has decided to postpone the election once again, and it is now set for December 4.
A dramatic statement to the rest of Europe
A democracy that had been portrayed as stable and a bulwark against crisis now shows itself not even able to organize elections properly. Once again, Austria is a laughing stock.
— Thomas Hofer
The office of President in Austria is a largely ceremonial position, but the election of Mr. Hofer, who has strongly opposed Austria admitting immigrants would make a dramatic symbolic statement to the rest of Europe.