NEWS

Austrian Far-Right Defeated As Country Hasn't Suffered Enough 'Rape And Murder Yet', Says Ukip Donor

Arron Banks condemned for inflammatory anti-EU comment.

04/12/2016 21:58 | Updated 05 December 2016

Austria chose not to elect a far-right President because it has not “suffered enough rape and murder yet”, a key player in the Brexit campaign and Ukip donor has suggested.

The defeat of Norbert Hofer was a cause for celebration for many. Despite pre-vote polls showing them neck and neck, Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, who campaigned on moderation and tolerance, beat Hofer and the Austrian Freedom Party.

The results - based on preliminary votes, though outstanding ballots will not change the outcome - showed Van der Bellen with 53.5 percent of the vote and Hofer having 46.4 percent.

Many commentators hailed the result ahead of key elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany next year amid a resurgent far-right.

Hofer’s party - whose first leader was a former SS officer - has received support from both far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen of France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, another hardliner.

But Arron Banks, the multi-millionaire who has bankrolled Ukip, and has been at Nigel Farage’s side during the now notorious recent meeting with Donald Trump, was anxious to explain why he thought the Freedom Party had fallen short.
Responding to a tweet pointing out Farage had wrongly predicted Hofer would win, he wrote:

“You can’t always get it right - I suppose they haven’t suffered enough rape and murder yet.”

Three Labour MPs were among the first to express their dismay with the remark.

Banks went on to argue he had no sympathy for the far right, rather suggesting that the Freedom Party represented the party in Austria most in tune with anti-establishment, anti-EU sentiment.

“It shows just how bad the EU has become and the anger people feel,” he tweeted, referring to its vote share.

Banks was one of the key players in the Farage-backed Leave.EU campaign that played a major role in Brexit, and his comments - however inflammatory - appear to refer to what he sees as the impact of having little control of borders.

Another prominent Ukip-er and former aide to Farage, Raheem Kassam, also expressed his feelings over the result.

Meanwhile, many were angry with the front page of Mail Online, which pointed to “gloating left-wing supporters” hailing Hofer’s defeat.

The Daily Mail newspaper, in particular, has been a long-standing critic of the EU.

But there was a suggestion the anti-EU rhetoric may have undermined Hofer’s campaign.

The Daily Telegraph reported how members of the Freedom Party were angered by Farage’s interventions.

Anton Mahdalik, a Freedom Party member of the Vienna city council, singled out Farage’s comments on Fox News on Friday that Mr Hofer would hold a referendum on Austria leaving the European Union. 

“That didn’t help us, it hindered us,” he said, adding that the vast majority of Austrians were pro-EU.

And Hofer ruled out a referendum earlier in the day, adding: “I would ask Mr Farage not to interfere in Austria’s internal affairs.

“It is not something I want. We need to build a stronger union.”

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