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Austria: EU's first far-right president?

Friday, May 20, 2016 - 01:40

Austrian voters decide this weekend whether to become the first European Union country to elect a far-right president. David Pollard reports.

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Picture-book Austria. But there's one picture that's speaks of an issue dividing this nation. Campaign posters auguring - very possibly - the rise to power of Europe's first far-right president. (SOUNDBITE) (German) VIENNA RESIDENT, DAVE, SAYING: "Other countries would be horrified if we elected Hofer as president, because he's a rightist politician, completely close-minded and would replace the whole government." And that, say his critics, raises shadows of the past. Popular endorsement of an anti-Islam, Eurosceptic, and some would say, extremist agenda. If the Freedom Party's Norbert Hofer wins a run-off presidential vote on May 22nd. (SOUNDBITE) (German) VIENNA RESIDENT, JOHANN, SAYING: "We shouldn't automatically make comparisons to the Nazis … There is a right and a left everywhere … They deserve a chance." Austria is the first wealthy EU nation at the end of a well-trodden Balkan migration route. It's channeled close to a million migrants since last year. 100,000 people have requested asylum in Austria itself. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "It does send signals about the way Europe is moving ... It's happening not so visibly but still occurring in many other countries in Europe where nationalistic right-wing parties taking advantage of the migration crisis are seeing a resurgence in their popularity." It's already been an eventful week for voters. Christian Kern's sudden appointment as chancellor coming after a political upset in April's first-round vote. More shocks may be in store - a win for Hofer also raising the prospect of early parliamentary elections.

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Austria: EU's first far-right president?

Friday, May 20, 2016 - 01:40