Europe

Right-wing counters church criticism of election poster

The party of the right-wing candidate for Austria's presidency is dismissing church criticism of the phrase "so help me God" on his election posters.

The Freedom Party, which backs candidate Norbert Hofer for the Dec. 4 elections, is addressing disapproval from Protestant church officials who say that introducing God into the election campaign is inappropriate.

Freedom Party official Herbert Kickl said Monday the phrase "is in no way a misuse of the concept of God." He says it "comes from the heart" of Hofer.

Hofer narrowly lost to left-leaning candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in May elections subsequently overturned by Austria's high court, which ordered a rerun on Freedom Party claims of widespread voting irregularities.

Hofer is a practicing Protestant. The Catholic church also has criticized use of the phrase.