After Trump and Brexit, Austria far-right eyes presidency

Vienna—First Brexit. Then Trump. Now Austria? The populist wave unfurling in many countries could claim a fresh victory Sunday if Norbert Hofer is elected Europe’s first far-right president since 1945.
Four weeks since Donald Trump’s stunning US election victory and five months after Britons voted to leave the EU, polls put the anti-immigration Hofer neck-and-neck with independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen.
Austria’s presidency is largely ceremonial, but a win for Hofer would be a major prize for Europe’s anti-establishment parties ahead of elections next year in France, Germany and the Netherlands.
The vote takes place the same day as an Italian referendum on constitutional reforms that could spell the end of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and renewed political upheaval in Europe’s fourth-biggest economy.
It ends an 11-month campaign marathon that has been ugly by Austrian standards.
Hofer posters were defaced with Hitler moustaches and Van der Bellen’s with dog excrement. His security detail was beefed up after death threats.
Hofer, 45, came top in the first round on April 24, knocking out for the first time in the post-war period candidates from the two centrist parties that have long dominated Austrian politics.—AFP

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