austria’s right populist party the FPOe are poised to win this sunday’s presidential election. we don’t know what is worse, that this event is largely being ignored or that the FPOe will probably win. norbert hofer, the 45 year old aeronautical engineer with a boyish smile is a member of a party that was founded in the 1950s by a former member of the national socialist party. a cynic could write this off by saying most people from that time had been in the national socialist party.
norbert hofer is leading the independent candidate and former head of the green party, alexander van der bellen 52% to 48%. a lot of people in europe might have austria presidential election fatigue, as the first election was in march, the run-off election was in may. van der bellen won that election by 30,000 votes (carrying all of vienna save 1 bourough). then the election results were challenged by heinz-christian strache, the head of the FPOe and known in austria as HC. a win on sunday would make norbert hofer europe’s first far right head of state since the end of world war 2.
the president is a ceremonial position in austria. but he (and it is generally a he) has the right to dissolve parliament and call elections. if hofer were to do this, most likely the FPOe who are presently polling at 35% in the country, would come in first place and HC would become austria’s chancellor. as austria is a pacifist country, what this really means, nobody can say. below you can watch a video from the guardian newspaper about the freedom party (FPOe) and an unmoderated debate between van der bellen and norbert hofer before the first runoff election.