Destinations Magazine

So Long, Farewell?

By Stizzard
So long, farewell?

“THERE are two possibilities,” predicted Norbert Hofer, who had just become the standard-bearer of Europe’s hard right. It was May 22nd, voting in Austria’s presidential run-off had ceased and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) candidate seemed to be ahead. “The first: I become president. The second: I become president, and Heinz-Christian Strache becomes chancellor!” In the beer garden in Vienna’s Prater amusement park, his supporters roared, drowning out shrieks from the adjacent roller coaster. Mr Strache, the FPÖ’s leader, grinned.

Once absentee ballots were counted the next day, a third scenario materialised. Mr Hofer (who carries a Glock pistol, supposedly to fend off refugees) narrowly lost to Alexander Van der Bellen, Austria’s 72-year-former Green Party leader. Just 31,000 votes averted the election of western Europe’s first far-right head of state since 1945. How had a man who talks of the “Muslim invasion” of Europe come so close?

The answer is part local, part European. The FPÖ epitomises Austria’s failure fully to come to terms with its complicity in the Third Reich. Founded by former SS officers, the…

The Economist: Europe

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