Austria’s Social Democrats have a new leader, finally, after a weekend ballot and counting error lead to them first announcing the wrong winner. 

Andreas Babler, the mayor of the town of Traiskirchen, outside Vienna, was facing off against Hans Peter Doskozil, the governor of the south-eastern Burgenland province on Saturday’s contest to be the new party leader. 

Doskozil is a better know figure to the Austrian public, and at the party’s weekend convention he was narrowly declared the winner. 

However on Monday, the head of the party’s electoral commission announced that it was in fact Babler and not Doskozil who had won, by a margin of 317 votes to 280.

How was the error discovered?

A recount took place on Monday after party officials discovered one vote was missing from the original total. 

In the process, they figured out that Saturday’s result had been “reversed” due to an error that occurred when votes were put into a spreadsheet. 

Babler said he would ask for the votes to be checked again. “It’s really important that there are no question marks left, so that we can move forward with certainty,” he was quoted saying by news outlet Kurier.

The 50-year-old apologised for the impression his party had left in recent weeks and pledged to work on a “complete comeback of social democracy.”

Babler is to the left of Doskozil on issues including migration. Traiskirchen, where he serves as mayor, is home to the biggest refugee reception centre in Austria.

The Social Democrats have led many of Austria’s post-World War II administrations but last served in government in 2017. In Austria’s last parliamentary election in 2019, it won 21.2% of the vote — far behind the conservative Austrian People’s Party, which currently governs in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens.

They are polling in second place behind the far-right Freedom Party, which has benefited from voters’ frustration with rising inflation.

Source: Euronews

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