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Austria: Sunday, second ballot for federal president. The Church criticises instrumental use of Christianity

Austrians’ long wait is nearly over: the second ballot for the election of the President of the Republic will take place on Sunday, December 4th, 7 months after the one of May 22nd, repealed by the Constitutional Court on July 1st due to a number of wrong and irregular procedures for counting votes sent by mail. Voters will be called, again, to make their choice between Alexander Van der Bellen, independent nominee and former president of the Green Party, who had won the repealed ballot, and his opponent, Norbert Hofer, leader of the Austrian nationalist- and populist-inspired Freedom Party. In this extremely long election campaign, which saw the first ballot take place on April 24th, there has been no shortage of harsh comments, mainly focussed on Austria’s role within the European Union, the welfare state with rising unemployment, and the national policy for the homing or rejection of refugees and migrants. In this respect, the parties mainly fought in the light of the role played by Austria as a passageway for asylum-seekers and refugees coming from the Balkan entranceways and the Italian border. In this last stage in the election campaign, harsh criticism has been voiced by the Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox Churches about the way Christian faith has been instrumentaly used in the election slogans. The results of the ballot are expected to be announced in the afternoon of Monday, December 5th.

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