The volume and viciousness of the internet invective directed at the Austrians yesterday surprised me. Their crime was to have swung about 8% since the last time they voted, defeating the candidate of the right. The rabid UK right on the web angrily branded them leftist green cowards, whilst the Guardian's own little Owen Jones waspishly asked why was he supposed to praise Austria because only 46% of them had voted fascist. Both extremes of hate are prime examples of gobbing-off without knowing one's arse from one's elbow.
I strongly suspect Van der Bellen was supported because he stood as an independent, has stressed he represents all Austrians, is a more presidential figure than Hofer, defends the status quo and will do nothing to rock the boat - in other words, he will do exactly what a largely ceremonial President is expected to do. But Hofer is no fascist, nor even is he 'far right' as the BBC insists on terming him. He's just a deeply conservative Austrian traditionalist embodying the fear that Austrians are losing control over their own destiny. A Venn diagram of the two candidates would actually show a large overlap - giving the lie to uninformed UK commentors who see a divisive polarisation.
Austrian politics are largely consensual. A Red-Black coalition - socialists and conservatives - has effectively been in power since the war, and only recently is being challenged in the Nationalrat by the Greens and Hofer's Blues. It's as if Theresa May was in coalition with Labour, and had Hillary Benn as her Foreign Secretary. Crazy, but it works.
But perhaps more deeply ingrained in voters is Austria's post war irrevocable declaration of Permanent Neutrality. Never again, pledged Austrians, would their nation strike the spark of European war. I don't think that's cowardice.
The country's conservative traditionalism does not make it a comfortable place for migrants. Dispersed to small rural communities around Austria, housed in barracks and youth hostels, fed boiled pasta three times a day and de-loused, disinfected and medicated as efficiently and bio-organically as any dairy herd, restricted to riding bicycles or using country postbus services, it is not the instant wealth, apartment and Audi they dreamt of. Add to those discomforts the insistence of cheery Austrians in greeting them a score of times a day with "Grüß Gott!" in praise to the Christian three-person God, a profusion of lovingly tended roadside crosses and Marian shrines, and Alpine valleys that ring with the echo of church bells three times a day and you can understand why the migrants drift to Germany and elsewhere where the Ummah has taken stronger hold.
So neither cowards nor fascists, Austrians made a decision that will be comfortable for all Austrians to wear. And they did it for themselves, not for rabid incendiaries in foreign lands nor for ill-informed and illiberal scribblers like the Guardian's little stars.
I can live with that.