OSCE to monitor presidential election

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will send election observers to Austria for the first time since World War II to monitor next month’s presidential elections.The body announced last night (Tues) it planned to send a ten-member team of experts to Austria to check structural aspects like press coverage and party financing initiatives.The intergovernmental organisation added the team would stay in Austria until around one week after the election set to be held on 25 April.Incumbent president Heinz Fischer, a former Social Democratic (SPÖ) MP, is tipped for clear victory. The campaign of his main rival for the post, the Freedom Party (FPÖ) MP Barbara Rosenkranz, however has managed to attract more attention.Rosenkranz has for years called for a suspension of Austria’s “National Socialism prohibition law” which forbids spreading Nazi ideology and support or founding of neo-Nazi organisations and parties. It was set up in 1947 and is regarded as one of the strictest anti-Nazi rulings in Europe.Rosenkranz, a mother-of-ten and married to the publisher of a far-right political magazine, earlier this week claimed she has “always condemned” any sort of Nazi crimes and propaganda.”I have never questioned the basic values of our country. I always defended them. My political engagement is an expression of my love for our homeland and for the Republic of Austria, to its neutrality and its freedom,” she announced.Fischer appealed last week for people to “create a firewall” against crimes carried out in World War II. He however refused to explicitly comment on the views of Rosenkranz.Viennese Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn and Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) chief Christoph Leitl meanwhile made clear they would not vote for Rosenkranz.