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Long Dominated By Center, Austria Splinters To Left And Right

In Austria, at the very heart of Europe, the center is not holding.

Norbert Hofer
Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party

After decades in which Austrian politics was dominated by center-right and center-left parties, voters emphatically rejected both in the first round of the election for a new president. The country–focused, like many others in Europe, on the effects of large-scale immigration–now faces a runoff next Sunday between a far-right, anti-immigration populist, who was the leading vote-getter in the first round, and a former Green Party leader.

Should the far-right candidate, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party, win the presidency, he would be the first right-wing populist to become a head of state in 21st-century Europe.

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Frans Timmermans

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