These Countries Have Been the Target of Russian Election Interference, #4. Austria
There were and are a few key takeaways from the 2016 election in the United States. First, we now know that anyone — really, anyone — can become president. Second, the nation is incredibly divided politically and ideologically, and the divide appears to be growing. And third, Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, can and will do anything possible to gum up the works of its geopolitical rivals. That includes getting involved in elections.
There are a lot of reasons why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, and you have to include Russian interference on the list. Putin’s meddling may not have been the primary reason Trump won, but by all accounts, Russia did attempt to interfere. And in an election that was won by around 70,000 votes out of more than 120 million, it may have been enough to tip the election.
But America’s 2016 race is far from the only instance of Putin and Russia meddling in foreign elections.
Putin and Russia: Meddling hard since 2004
According to a report from USA Today, Russia has interfered in dozens of elections since 2004. The total adds up to 27 countries over the course of 12 years, but it appears that none have been more consequential than last year’s presidential race. Again, though — 2016 looks like it was just the tip of the iceberg. Since November 2016, Russia has been hard at it in other countries, too. Here are a handful of those countries where Putin and Russia are and have been working to undermine elections.
- Russia’s efforts have focused largely on Europe — and Austria is no exception.
Austria’s far-right party nearly won in the country’s last round of elections, held in late 2017. Austria had been identified by American intelligence agencies as one of the countries Putin was looking to target, and lo and behold, the far-right Freedom Party gained a foothold after the election — along with its Russia-friendly stances. A day after the election, agreements were made between Putin’s government and the far-right members of Austria’s government.