The Freedom Party’s Second Chance in Austria

Hab das für die „New York Times“ geschrieben. Dezember 1 st, 2016 

foto-49VIENNA — Sunday will see the culmination of one of the longest, toughest — and flat-out weirdest — elections ever in Austria. Voters

will choose between two candidates: Alexander Van der Bellen, the former leader of the small Green Party, and Norbert Hofer, a key figure in the right-wing Freedom Party.

The result will have a symbolic importance far beyond Austria. Is another country about to join the rise of nationalist and far-right populists elsewhere in Europe, and mimic the unexpected success of President-elect Donald J. Trump in the United States?

The pairing of finalists in this contest is odd enough: Both their parties were usually on the fringes of the traditional political establishment, which for decades was dominated by the center-left Social Democrats on one side and the center-right Austrian People’s Party on the other. Back in April, though, the voters dealt a humiliation to those two parties’ candidates in the first round of voting, consigning them to fourth and fifth places.

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