(FILES) This file photo taken on May 22, 2016 shows Austrian presidential candidates Alexander Van der Bellen (L) of the Greens and Norbert Hofer (R) of the Austrian Freedom party attending a television discussion after the second round of the Austrian presidential elections at the Hofburg palace in Vienna. The re-run of Austria’s presidential election on October 2, 2016 needs to be postponed because of problems with glue on postal votes not sticking, the interior minister said on September 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / APA / HELMUT FOHRINGER
The re-run of Austria’s presidential election on October 2 needs to be postponed because of problems with glue on postal votes not sticking, the interior minister said Monday.
“We are going to request that parliament approves a postponement of the election,” Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters. Possible new dates are November 27 or December 4, he said.
The postponement is a further embarrassment for Austria, a wealthy and advanced Western democracy and EU member, and for the government of Chancellor Christian Kern.
Austria has been without a president since July 8 when Heinz Fischer stepped down. He was replaced on an interim basis by the speaker of parliament and two deputy speakers.
The last election result from May was annulled after Austria’s highest court in July upheld claims of procedural irregularities made by the narrowly-defeated far-right.
That vote, a run-off after the first round in April, saw independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly beat Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) by just 31,000 votes.
The FPOe has stoked concerns about recent record immigration, and should Hofer eventually win it would make Austria the first country in Europe since 1945 to elect a far-right president.
The role of the Austrian president is largely — but not entirely — ceremonial, and a victory by Hofer would be a major boost to Europe’s other surging populist movements.