EU officials warned a win for populism could put the entire union at threat
Brussels were finally breathing easy after both the Dutch and French elections this year passed without deeply eurosceptic Geert Wilders or Marine Le Pen securing victory.
EU officials warned a win for populism could put the entire union at threat, and the bloc be torn apart if countries follow in Britain’s footsteps with Brexit.
But now a new threat is looming following the dramatic collapse of Austria’s government.
Norbert Hofer will be attempting to snatch more votes in the early election
The Freedom Party is riding high in the polls – and could take power if it forms a coalition after elections on October 15.
Dutch, French, British and German general elections have already battered the Brussels elite with the European Union being forced to row back on some of its most outlandish ideas.
Now the Alpine republic, one of the first to erect a razor wire fence during the migrant crisis, will decide its future course on immigration, labour and social policy this October.
The next election was originally due to be held in autumn 2018, but the government collapsed after months of statements disagreements over reform policies.
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And the Freedom Party, founded in 1955 by former Nazis amongst other, hope to take advantage of the chaos.
According to a poll from Neuwal, the party previously had polling highs of almost 35 per cent at the end of last year, although has since dropped to just above 25 point.
The Social Democrats party are just a point ahead, tied with the rival People’s party, in a sign Austria will need to form a coalition government to rule.
Both Geert Wilders or Marine Le Pen failed to secure victory
Eurosceptic Norbert Hofer has caused controversy in Austria
And either of the two large centrist parties could opt to forge an alliance with the FP to secure the chancellorship.
But the move could prove problematic for the EU, as the election could see Austria move closer to the unhappy group of member states who have been extremely vocal over the opposition to a raft of Brussels policies.
The EU would find it harder to function “if Austria becomes part of the Visegrad awkward squad of governments that blame the bloc and refuse to implement measures agreed on migration”, according to Heather Grabbe from the Open Society European Policy Institute.
While the chances of the Freedom party taking the chancellorship are “pretty slim”, according to political analyst Thomas Hofer, “the chances of being part of the government are pretty high”.