European Elections

EU SHOCK: Austria to hold emergency snap election as support for eurosceptics SURGE

FAR-RIGHT politics could win in Austria after a snap election was called in the latest shock to the European Union.

The countries main parties have agreed to hold an early parliamentary election on October 15, Chancellor Christian Kern said on Tuesday.Fears are now growing among the political elite that the far-right Freedom Party could make it into government.

The election will be the latest threat to the European Union’s spreading ideology and push for uniformity among member states.

Dutch, French, British and German general elections have battered the Brussels elite with the Union being forced to row back on some of its most outlandish ideas.

Norbert Hofer and Alexander Van der BellenGETTY               Austria back to the polls: Norbert Hofer came was narrowly edged out by Alexander Van der Bellen

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 and its position within the European Union.Mr Kern said after meeting leaders of all parliamentary parties: “We have agreed on Oct. 15 (for parliamentary elections).

The next election was originally due to be held in autumn 2018.

Norbert HoferGETTY                Norbert Hofer will be attempting to snatch more votes in the early election

Mr Kern’s government has been blocked for months in disputes over reform policies between his Social Democratic Party (SPO) and its conservative People’s Party (OVP) coalition partner, which have been exacerbated by internal wrangling in the OVP.Since the OVP called for early elections on Friday and elected the 30-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as its new leader on Sunday, its popularity ratings have jumped to 35 per cent in a Research Affairs poll from around 20 percent in recent months.

That put the OVP ahead of the other parties in opinion polls. Before this, the populist Freedom Party (FPO) had led the polls for more than a year with support of over 30 percent, followed by the Social Democrats.

The FPO presidential candidate’s narrow defeat in December’s run-off reflected the steep decline in Austrian voters’ trust in their main parties.

The Freedom Party is likely to jump at the opportunity for a shot at power.

Norbert Hofer came close to election in In December’s presidential election but was narrowly edged out by independent green Alexander Van der Bellen in a re-run of the April vote.

Mr Hofer took just under 47 per cent of the vote.With the mainstream parties massively out of favour with the electorate, the Freedom Party will be looking to make gains.

The Freedom Party was founded in 1955.

Today it has a programme of policies which are staunchly anti-immigration. It is also Eurosceptic and wants to ban the Islamic face veil.

EU supporters want Hofer nowhere near officeGETTY              Eurosceptic Norbert Hofer has caused controversy in Austria

The Social Democrats ruled with the FPO from 1983 to 1987.In 2000, the OVP and FPO agreed on a government headed by the OVP’s Wolfgang Schuessel, which led to a six-month diplomatic boycott of Austria by other European Union member states.

But the FPO, whose charismatic late chairman Joerg Haider made it into Europe’s most successful far-right party with 27 per cent in Austria’s 1999 general election, dropped to 10 per cent in 2002 after a spate of in-fighting, policy squabbles and opposition to the EU’s eastward expansion.

Under its current leader Heinz-Christian Strache, the FPO has gained massive support with a eurosceptic and anti-immigration policy.

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