Austria is on the verge of electing Europe's first far-right candidate since World War II

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The United States is not the only country facing an insurgency from the extremist, far right.

Austria's presidential election was too close to call on Sunday, with the anti-immigrant Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer with a slight lead.

Both Hofer and Independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen (who has ties to the Green party) with 50 percent of the vote. Hofer is up 3.8 percent on official ballots, but those ballots do not include absentee figures.


The two main centrist party candidates, the Social Democrats and the conservative People’s Party, had their candidates knocked out in the first round.

In the past year, around 90,000 (the equivalent of one percent of the country’s population) people sought asylum in Austria. Hofer’s rise has led in large part to his promise to enact tougher restrictions on migrants and carry out deportations of Muslims.

Hofer drafted the new Freedom Party manifesto, which focused on the "identity" of native Austrians. He has even been spotted wearing a blue cornflower, which was a symbol of German nationalists in the 19th century and was used as a secret symbol of the banned Nazi party ahead of the annexation of Austria in 1938. The blue cornflower is the symbol of the Freedom Party.

Hofer has been compared to Donald Trump due his brand of populism and his campaign of "Austria First." Hofer is pro-gun, frequently posting pictures at gun ranges and declaring that he understands Austria's rising gun ownership "given current uncertainties" And like Trump, Hofer's supporters tend to less-educated, white, working-class voters, according to The Washington Post.


Hofer has one difference from Trump: There's no fiery rhetoric as Hofer is famously soft-spoken.

While the presidency is somewhat of a ceremonial position, Hofer has vowed to expand the president's power.


A far-right candidate has not won a presidency in Europe since World War II. Nationalist movements have been on the rise in Europe as large numbers of refugees have poured in Austria, Germany and Greece.

Hofer’s victory could put the Freedom Party in contention in the 2018 parliamentary elections and give momentum to far-right parties throughout Europe. In France, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen is leading in polls against the Socialist party in the 2017 elections. Far-right groups in Britain have been advocating to leave the European Union, and that country will vote in June on the issue.

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