Austria poised to elect far-Right president as Europe’s populist backlash deepens

Austria poised to elect far-Right president as Europe’s populist backlash deepens, by Peter Foster.

Austria looks poised to elect a new president from its far-Right Freedom Party in the second round of its presidential elections later today in a move that populist politicians across Europe hope will give their cause a major boost.

Norbert Hofer, the 45-year-old Freedom Party  is the front-runner in a two-horse race against Alexander van der Bellen, a 73-year-old veteran ecologist and green who is running as an independent.

Both candidacies have shocked the Austrian political establishment, neither of whose two main parties reached the second round run-off for the first time since 1945. …

Mr Hofer has carried his Glock pistol around with him on the campaign trail, arguing that a rise in gun ownership in Austria is a natural reaction to the migrant crisis.

Times change.

In 2000 some 150,000 Austrians took to the streets of Vienna to protest against the Freedom Party entering into Austria’s governing coalition, but protests have been much more muted during the 2016 campaign.

Only around 400 protestors were reported to have turned up to an anti-Hofer protest in front of Vienna’s Hofburg presidential Palace last Friday, carrying placards demanding “No Nazi in the Hofburg”.

Notice that both candidates in the run-off are from upstart new parties, as voters abandon the cosy consensus of the tired old elites who dominate the politically correct, big established parties. Voters want change, presumably because those old parties delivered the wrong policies … and Muslim migrants?

hat-tip Stephen Neil