Announcements – Reminders ~ Updates ~ Beginning Tuesday May 31 (from Adrienne Fong)

Reminder – Tickets still available!


Killing Them Safely's Profile Photo


 (San Francisco ~ Theatrical Premiere)

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Roxie Theater

3117 – 16th St.

San Francisco

Killing Them Safely, an explosive 2015 documentary film on the controversy over police use of TASERS.

Hundreds of deaths. Zero oversight. In the early 2000s Tasers were marketed to law enforcement agencies as a safe alternative to handguns. They were supposed to curb the use of deadly force – so why have over 500 people died from Taser-related injuries since?

Following the screening discussion with:


JEFF ADACHI, San Francisco Public Defender

About the film and its implications for the upcoming decision of the San Francisco Police Commission to possibly start outfitting San Francisco Police Department officers with Tasers.

5:45pm Chalking on sidewalk of names of those whose lives have been stolen by Tasers. (outside)



OccupySF Action Council is one of the co-sponsors

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Open to the Public. Come speak-out during public comment:

San Francisco Police Commission

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


San Francisco City Hall – Room 400

1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco      


Agenda items:

-Use of Force of Force Policy and Draft Conductive Energy Devices (Tasers).

-Report on creation of a committee to manage search for a permanent Chief of Police.

Arrive early to go through security and get a seat.

Agenda Info:


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Tuesday, May 31

M 31, Tuesday, 4:00pm – 5:00pm, Press Conference –  PETITION to RECALL ED LEE has now been launched

SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place

Department of Election final filing.

4:00pm Proof of Publication and copies of our official Petition for Recall of Mayor Ed Lee. (in City Hall basement)

4:30pm: Press Conference on Steps of City Hall

It is our right under the California State Constitution to recall our elected (and some appointed) officials. When those officials no longer represent us, it is our duty to remove them from office.

Written communication from the Department of Elections has been received that they will attempt to limit our Constitutional right to #‎RecallEdLee.They do not have the legal authority to do so. Let’s let them know.


This has been CANCELLED:

6:00 pm              Noe Valley Library   451 Jersey St.


A reapplication meeting for planned construction of 3359 26th St. at Capp St. to add three floors to an existing building.

The site is in the  MISSION DISTRICT but the hearing is not!

Wednesday, June 1

J 1, Wednesday, 12 Noon – 1:00pm, Rent Control Rally

SF Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community
1 South Van Ness Ave., 5th Floor

Mayors Office of Housing and Mercy Housing decided to codify rent increases of 30% to 300% for long-term tenants. Our families have been under rent control protection for many decades.

These rent increases are designed to drive out working class, primarily Black famlies out of the Fillmore/Western Addition.

The have a rent control lawsuit, but while it’s going through the legal system, we face a very real danger of imminent displacement.

Please join us as we demand continuation of rent control protection for Midtown tenants.


Biography: Smedley Butler


Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during theBanana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler is well known for having later become an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences, as well as exposing the Business Plot, an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.

By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to other Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations. A final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler’s testimony.

In 1935, Butler wrote a book entitled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.

Eugene V. Debs on the lower class, the criminal element and the imprisoned


“While there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

–Eugene Victor “Gene” Debs (November 5, 1855 – October 20, 1926) was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World, and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States. Wikipedia

Oliver Stone’s “Untold History of the United States” — Episode 1 of 10

“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” ― Woodrow Wilson The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arabella, still warps Americans’ understanding of their nation’s role in the world. Most are loathe to admit that the United States has any imperial pretensions. But history tells a different story as filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick reveal in this riveting account of the rise and decline of the American empire. They trace the American empire through the bloody U.S. suppression of the Filipino struggle for independence; the establishment of U.S. financial hegemony via World War I; the repeated U.S. interventions, covert operations, and wars in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East; the transformation of America into a prying national security state; the accumulation of vast fortunes by the wealthiest Americans; and troubling assaults on U.S. constitutional liberties. Aided by the latest archival findings and recently declassified documents and building on the research of the world’s best scholars, Stone and Kuznick construct an often shocking but meticulously documented “people’s history” of the American empire that offers startling context to the Bush-Cheney policies that put us at war in two Muslim countries and show us why the Obama administration has had such a difficult time cleaving a new path. Stone and Kuznick will introduce listeners to a pantheon of heroes and villains as they show not only how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions but the powerful forces that have struggled to get us back on track. The authors reveal that: •The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily unnecessary and morally indefensible. •The United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War. •The U.S. love affair with right-wing dictators has gone as far as overthrowing elected leaders, arming and training murderous military officers, and forcing millions of people into poverty. •U.S.-funded Islamist fundamentalists, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have blown back to threaten the interests of the United States and its allies. •U.S. presidents, especially in wartime, have frequently trampled on the Constitution and international law. •The United States has brandished nuclear threats repeatedly and come terrifyingly close to nuclear war. American leaders often believe they are unbound by history, yet Stone and Kuznick argue that we must face our troubling history honestly and forthrightly in order to set a new course for the twenty-first century. Their conclusions will astonish even experts, but there is one question only listeners can answer: Is it too late for America to change?

Action Council Events — June 1 to June 6 (from Patricia Gray)

The future of our nation and our democracy looks bad for the
working class people of our nation.  Most of us realize that our
democracy is in tatters.  It is election time—but who really thinks
that a new bunch of elected officials will really stop our decline
and end the corruption?  We know the government of our nation
is planning a new war against Russia and China.  We know
our tax funds are being used for endless wars that are not in the
interest of the people of this nation.  This is causing  severe cuts
in all of our domestic programs.
All of us, of whatever color of our skin or ethnicity, must join
together and support each other in our many activities to get
liberty and justice for all.
Our democracy works only when our elected officials are frightened
by the people out on the streets.  That is our only hope to get them
to heed the voice of the many, not the few.
Wednesday June 1
9:30 am     S.F. City Hall room 205
                  PUBLIC HEARING – AIRBNB
                  Join us at the Government Audit and Oversight (GAO)
                  on new enforcement of rules for converting apartments
                  into hotel rentals.
12 to 1:00 pm     S.F/ Mayor’s office of Housing and Community
                           Development    1 South Van Ness Ave.  5th floor
                           RENT CONTROL RALLY!
                           They are planning to codify rent increases of 30%
                           for long term tenants. These rent increases will
                           drive out working class families in the Filmore/
                           Western Addition neighborhoods.
                           Join us to demand continuation of rent control!
5:00 pm      Police Commission Meeting    City Hall room 400
                   STOP TASERS!
                   The Police Commission is considering tasers for the
                   S.F.P.D. at this meeting.  Come and join in the public
                   discussion of this plan.
7:00 pm     African American Cultural Complex
                  762 Fulton St.  S.F.
                  MANIFESTING ACCESS
                  Come and see a collection of short movies the expose
                  truths at the intersection of disability and police terror.
                  Disabled people are among the highest targeted by the
                  police violence.
7 – 9:00 pm   Marines Memorial Theater
                     609 Sutter St.  (at Mason)
                     6 BIG NEW CLEANTECH IDEAS
                     Berkeley Lab’s popular Science at the Theater
                     travels across the bay to present the Lab’s first
                     CLEANTECH PITCHFEST.    Which of these six big
                     ideas presented by six Berkeley Lab Scientists will
                     best help us transform our carbon drenched over
                     heated world has the most promise and social value?
                     Free Admission  Please RSVP at
Thursday, June 2
3:30 pm   Planning Commission hearing
                City Hall room 400
                STOP THE BEAST ON  BRYANT!
                Community pressure have forced this meeting and
                discussion with the developer.
                Our Mission NO EVICTIONS!
6:30 – 9:00 pm   Berkeley Fellowship Hall
                          1924 Cedar St (at Bonita) Berkeley
                          OCCUPY THE FARM
                          Screening of the film telling the story of 200 urban
                          farmers who occupied public land  that was to be
                          into a real estate development.  This direct action
                          blocked the development plans of UC Berkeley.
                          They planted acres of crops on the land.
                          Director Todd Darling will be present for Q & A and
                          give us updates on the current status of the farm.
                          Refreshments will be served at 6:30 and the film will
                          be shown at 7:00
                          $5.00 to $20.00 donation   No one turned away.
                          sponsored by Transition Berkeley, the Ecology
                          Center and the Fellowship of UUs.
Friday June 3
4:40 pm       Main Berkeley Post Office
                    2000 Allston Way Berkeley
                    CANDIDATE FOR  PRESIDENT
                    Mobilize to preserve our post office and our other
                    public resources in the face of PRIVITAZATION!
7:00 pm     2969 Mission St. S.F.
                  2016 ELECTION – WHAT IS AT STAKE?
                  Speaker  Gloria La Riva, Party for Socialism and
                  Liberation candidate for President
       7:00 pm       St. John’s Presbyterian Church
                           2727 College Ave.   Berkeley
                           NORTH AMERICAN NAKBA TOUR
                           Meet stateless Palestinians from the camps in
                           Lebanon.  Come and meet 86 year old Maream
                           Fathalla and Amena Adhkar a great grand daughter
                           of other Nakba survivors.  These two women want
                           to tell you their stories of their years of exile from
                           their homes in Palestine (now Israel) They are
                           stateless  people.
7:30 – 10:30       2467 28th St. ( off Taraval)
                          JILL STEIN MEET AND GREET IN THE SUNSET
                          Wine and refreshments served.
                          Please RSVP so that there will be enough for
                          everyone at
Saturday, June 4
9:30 – 4:00     UU Center, 1180 Franklin St. (at Geary)
                      This gathering will focus on how we can work
                       together to advance affordable housing and worker
                       Aaron Peskin Supervisor,  Saru Jayaraman,
                       Restaurants Opportunities United,
                       Organizations sponsoring:  Organization of Bay Area
                       Governments, Council of Community Housing,
                       Jobs  with Justice,  Alliance of Californians for
                       Community.  Empowerment Bay Area, UUs for
                       Faith in Action Bay Area
                       Registration $20.00 (including lunch)
                       call Bevery Boido at 916-441-0018 for RSVP
11 – 5:00 pm
                     NAME TAG DAY
                     Each day brings a chance to talk to people about
                     things that concern us — but we are hesitant to
                     start a conversation with people we don’t know.
                     On our Name Tag Day we will hand out name tags
                     to people that are open to talking to strangers about
                     anything.  Imagine if you were suddenly friends with
                     everyone!  How would that change the way we
                     interact?   Wouldn’t that make the world a kinder
                     gentler place?  How about you try it?
                     Go to:
                     in the Castro    Jane Werner Plaza
                     on the Embarcadero    The Ferry Building
                     Hayes Valley     Patricia’s Green
                     Marina/Cow Hollow     Allyne Park
                     Mission      Dolores Park
                     So Ma   Soma Street Food Park
6:30   The Women’s building  3543 18th St. S.F.
          Speaker  Dr. Jill Stein
          We need to move to a movement against predatory
          capitalism.  We need a more just system to share the
          wealth of our nation and protect the earth and all life on
          it.  We must break the two party system!
         sponsored by the Bay Area International Socialist
7:30 – 10:pm    2969 Mission St. S.F.
                        LYRICAL REVOLT
                        A political-artistic space for expression through
                        any vocal medium. Join jus as we use words and
                        art to battle the injustices that face us today.
                        Performers sign up begins at 6:00.  We must fight
                        for a system where the power is in the hands of
                        the people—not the 1%!
Sunday June 5
10:00 – 12:00 pm    EcoHouse    1305 Hopkins St.  Berkeley
                               ECO HOUSE TOUR – CLIMATE ACTION
                               AND ADAPTATION
                               Join us for an informative exterior tour of our eco
                               demonstration home and garden.   Learn how
                               to use grey water and restore your soil, how to
                               filter air pollution, and reduce needs for heating
                               and air conditioning.   Learn how to have a
                               rain water cistern and provide useful resources
                               and help you live with what is possible in an
                               urban home.
                               Space is limited. Please go to
                       to RSVP
10:30 – 12:30 pm    Marxist Library    6501 Telegraph Ave ( north
                               of Alcatraz Ave)  Oakland
                               THE HISTORY OF SOCIALISM IN AMERICA
                               FROM 1825 TO BERNIE IN 2016
                               A power point presentation by Eugene Ruyle,
                               anthropology professor from Cal State Long
                               Beach.  This work shop will take as closer look
                               look at Bernie’s socialism by placing it in a
                               global context of two centuries of struggle
                               against capitalism.
                               Free event—but we will pass the hat.
Monday June 6
12:00 noon      Redstone Building  2940 16th St. (near Mission St.)
                        Brown Bag Forum
                        ELECTION FRAUD
                        Speakers,  Harvey Wasserman, Paul Kangas, David
                        Grace, Bryant Foster and more.
                        sponsor   Solar Justice Team
                        more info    415-368-8581
      5:30       Berkeley Central Library 
                     2090 Kittredge, Berkeley, Community room on the 3rd floor
                     Discussion after the showing of the film.
                     The film explains why policies regarding the Middle
                     East have been banned from public discussion.
                     free event
                     Sponsor:  Bay Area Jewish Voice for Peace
6:00 pm     Global Exchange    2017 Mission St  Second floor
                  OCCUPY FORUM
                  Speaker Victor Menotti with a Koch Brothers update.
If you know of an activity coming up in the next few weeks that
would be of interest to the Occupy community, please let me know
and I will put it on the Occupy Calendar

Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov: The man who saved the world


Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov (30 January 1926 – 19 August 1998) was a Soviet Navy officer who prevented a nuclear war during theCuban Missile Crisis. Only Arkhipov, as Flotilla commander and second-in-command of the nuclear-armed submarine B-59, refused to authorize the captain’s use of nuclear torpedoesagainst the United States Navy, a decision requiring the agreement of all three senior officers aboard. In 2002 Thomas Blanton, who was then director of the National Security Archive, said that “a guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world”.  Wikipedia

“How Wall Street Occupied America” by Bill Moyers

Why the rich keep getting richer and our democracy is getting poorer.

This article is adapted from a speech Bill Moyers gave in October at Public Citizen’s fortieth-anniversary gala.

November 2, 2011

During the prairie revolt that swept the Great Plains in 1890, populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease exclaimed, “Wall Street owns the country…. Money rules…. Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The [political] parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us.”

She should see us now. John Boehner calls on the bankers, holds out his cup and offers them total obeisance from the House majority if only they fill it. Barack Obama criticizes bankers as “fat cats,” then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant where the tasting menu runs to $195 a person.

That’s now the norm, and they get away with it. The president has raised more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and private equity managers than any Republican candidate, including Mitt Romney. Inch by inch he has conceded ground to them while espousing populist rhetoric that his very actions betray.

Let’s name this for what it is: hypocrisy made worse, the further perversion of democracy. Our politicians are little more than money launderers in the trafficking of power and policy—fewer than six degrees of separation from the spirit and tactics of Tony Soprano.

Why New York’s Zuccotti Park is filled with people is no mystery. Reporters keep scratching their heads and asking, “Why are you here?” But it’s clear they are occupying Wall Street because Wall Street has occupied the country. And that’s why in public places across the nation workaday Americans are standing up in solidarity. Did you see the sign a woman was carrying at a fraternal march in Iowa the other day? It read, I Can’t Afford to Buy a Politician So I Bought This Sign. Americans have learned the hard way that when rich organizations and wealthy individuals shower Washington with millions in campaign contributions, they get what they want.

In his Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, historian Gordon Wood says that our nation discovered its greatness “by creating a prosperous free society belonging to obscure people with their workaday concerns and pecuniary pursuits of happiness.” This democracy, he said, changed the lives of “hitherto neglected and despised masses of common laboring people.”

Those words moved me when I read them. They moved me because Henry and Ruby Moyers were “common laboring people.” My father dropped out of the fourth grade and never returned to school because his family needed him to pick cotton to help make ends meet. Mother managed to finish the eighth grade before she followed him into the fields. They were tenant farmers when the Great Depression knocked them down and almost out. The year I was born my father was making $2 a day working on the highway to Oklahoma City. He never took home more than $100 a week in his working life, and he made that only when he joined the union in the last job he held. I was one of the poorest white kids in town, but in many respects I was the equal of my friend who was the daughter of the richest man in town. I went to good public schools, had the use of a good public library, played sandlot baseball in a good public park and traveled far on good public roads with good public facilities to a good public university. Because these public goods were there for us, I never thought of myself as poor. When I began to piece the story together years later, I came to realize that people like the Moyerses had been included in the American deal. “We, the People” included us.

* * *

It’s heartbreaking to see what has become of that bargain. Nowadays it’s every man for himself. How did this happen? The rise of the money power in our time goes back forty years. We can pinpoint the date. On August 23, 1971, a corporate lawyer named Lewis Powell—a board member of the death-dealing tobacco giant Philip Morris and a future justice of the Supreme Court—released a confidential memorandum for his friends at the US Chamber of Commerce. We look back on it now as a call to arms for class war waged from the top down.

Recall the context of Powell’s memo. Big business was being forced to clean up its act. Even Republicans had signed on. In 1970 President Nixon put his signature on the National Environmental Policy Act and named a White House Council to promote environmental quality. A few months later millions of Americans turned out for Earth Day. Nixon then agreed to create the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress acted swiftly to pass tough amendments to the Clean Air Act, and the EPA announced the first air pollution standards. There were new regulations directed at lead paint and pesticides. Corporations were no longer getting away with murder.

Powell was shocked by what he called an “attack on the American free enterprise system.” Not just from a few “extremists of the left” but also from “perfectly respectable elements of society,” including the media, politicians and leading intellectuals. Fight back and fight back hard, he urged his compatriots. Build a movement. Set speakers loose across the country. Take on prominent institutions of public opinion—especially the universities, the media and the courts. Keep television programs “monitored the same way textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance.” And above all, recognize that political power must be “assiduously [sic] cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination” and “without embarrassment.”

Powell imagined the Chamber of Commerce as a council of war. Since business executives had “little stomach for hard-nosed contest with their critics” and “little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate,” they should create think tanks, legal foundations and front groups of every stripe. These groups could, he said, be aligned into a united front through “careful long-range planning and implementation…consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and united organizations.”

The public wouldn’t learn of the memo until after Nixon appointed Powell to the Supreme Court that same year, 1971. By then his document had circulated widely in corporate suites. Within two years the board of the Chamber of Commerce had formed a task force of forty business executives—from US Steel, GE, GM, Phillips Petroleum, 3M, Amway, and ABC and CBS (two media companies, we should note). Their assignment was to coordinate the crusade, put Powell’s recommendations into effect and push the corporate agenda. Powell had set in motion a revolt of the rich. As historian Kim Phillips-Fein subsequently wrote, “Many who read the memo cited it afterward as inspiration for their political choices.”

They chose swiftly. The National Association of Manufacturers announced that it was moving its main offices to Washington. In 1971 only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in the capital; by 1982 nearly 2,500 did. Corporate PACs increased from fewer than 300 in 1976 to more than 1,200 by the mid-’80s. From Powell’s impetus came the Business Roundtable, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy (precursor to what we now know as Americans for Prosperity) and other organizations united in pushing back against political equality and shared prosperity. They triggered an economic transformation that would in time touch every aspect of our lives.

Continue reading

Open call to artists (from Gwyllm Llwydd)

DimplomacyWorking Title: “Diplomacy” Gwyllm – 2016

With the beginning of the The Iraq Invasion, the whole anti-war movement collapsed. Since then, the West has become enmeshed with an unwinnable “Forever War”… at great cost to civilian populations across the world.

As there is no draft, so there is no need to resist it seems. After all, take away all economic opportunities from the working class, but leave the option of education, health care etc. through the military, and shabam! You have all the cannon fodder available. If we think this wasn’t by design, and social engineering, then I feel we are fully immersed in illusion.

I have not been comfortable with the implied complicity of all involved, and especially those who know better. Yes, there is resistance, but we can no longer count on the media, and especially the corporate media to get the story out.

I am calling on artists to illustrate and to start a movement of resistance that might just catch on. The juggernaut of empire and the attending lawlessness has to end somewhere, and let it at least begin with me.



Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent candidate backed by the Austrian Green Party, on Sunday narrowly defeated far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer to become Austria’s new president, quelling fears that an extremist government might seize power in the heart of Europe.

Hofer won the first round of voting last month and, until postal votes were counted in the second round, he still maintained the lead at the ballot box. He was beaten by just 31,000 votes out of more than 4.7 million cast nationwide. If elected, he would have become the first far-right head of state in the European Union – and the first elected in Europe since the Second World War. Van der Bellen replaces moderate president Heinz Fischer, who served two terms.

“Nobody was expecting the results to be so close,” Ulrike Guérot, professor of European Policy and Study of Democracy at Danube University in Krems, Austria, told

“Many people, myself included, were expecting Hofer would win. Austria is clearly very split, much as I believe the UK will be over the Brexit vote. There were more than a million postal votes, a very high number. These postal voters were, in my opinion, the more liberal, progressive, educated people, fearful that Hofer would win and intent on making sure their vote was counted.”

Explanations are mixed as to why Austrian voters strayed from electing a middle-ground candidate – as they did for the past two terms – and instead favored a showdown between two radical alternatives. “Just like in the Netherlands, Germany, and many other countries, we’ve always had the same main parties,” Guérot said, but this time, “there was real unrest with the status quo. Unless the centre-left and centre-right parties can deliver, eventually voters often radicalize at the fringes.”

Why the leap so far to the right? The refugee crisis gripping Europe is the single clearest answer. “But don’t forget that there has always been something of a latent right-wing ideology in Austria,” Guérot added, citing the successful rise of rightest politicians like President Waldheim and Jörg Haider in recent years. “It’s less of a violent ideology than in Germany – Austrians don’t tend to burn refugee homes down – but it’s not a huge surprise that it’s come to this when we add the refugee crisis to the general culture.”

Alexandra Siegl, an Austrian political analyst who took part in conducting voter surveys before election day, saw the candidates polling neck and neck. “We expected a close run,” she told, and agreed that the refugee crisis was the big issue of the election.

“A lot of refugees came to Austria last year and there was a big change in public opinion towards them. In the beginning people were quite friendly and everybody wanted to help them. But over time, attitudes shifted. I think a big turning point was what happened in Cologne on New Year’s Eve,” she said, referring to the night last Dec. 31 when hundreds of incidents of sexual assault were reported against mostly refugees and asylum seekers. “It was discussed very widely in the media. The issue of refugees really polarized Austrian society after that.”

But there were other catalysts to the political shift as well.

“There has been a lot of disaffection with the Austrian government. We have a particularly high unemployment rate at the moment. Politics in Austria has been governed by two main parties for a long time, and lately they have been fighting and blocking one another and unable to make decisions,” Siegl added.

Lewis Baston, a UK political analyst who closely followed the Austrian contest, insisted the results were an optimistic sign – not only for Austria, but for Europe more broadly. “Austria’s presidential election showed that right wing populism is a rising force, but that it can still be beaten,” he said. “The refugee crisis, wider cultural anxieties and economic factors have created a ready audience for the right. Hungary and Poland have both elected rightist governments that have shown little respect for constitutional law, and anti-immigrant parties in France and the Netherlands are also doing well.”

In the end, he agreed, it was the public’s reluctance to back either of the country’s tired, ineffective political parties that pushed the elections to the extreme. “Austria has usually been run by a very cosy centre coalition of the two big parties – both of them moderate, essentially dividing up the state between them,” he explained.

But, “their power has steadily weakened since the 1980s and they were humiliated by the outcome of the first round of the presidential election when their candidates were eliminated, and the surviving anti-rightist candidate was an independent Green. Austria has a particularly severe case of the dislike of establishment politics found in many countries – including the UK and the U.S.”

Had things worked out differently and Hofer had won, said Guérot of Danube University, “I think the symbolism of it would have been huge. It would have added to the example of Poland and Hungary, who already have right-wing governments, and might have inspired more European countries to elect right-wing leaders. Van der Bellen is green, open and cosmopolitan: he is a last chance for Austria.”

As the dust cleared on Monday, Van der Bellen and his supporters finally had a chance to celebrate the win. But with such a close margin of victory, Austria’s new leader can expect rocky times ahead between now and parliamentary elections in 2018.

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