In one of the first electoral tests on the continent since the Brexit and Trump political earthquakes, Austrians are slated to go to the polls Sunday — for the last time, they hope — in a rerun of a presidential election that pits a far-right populist against a left-wing independent.
Regardless of who wins, the president-elect for the first time will not come from either of the country’s two main centrist parties that have dominated the tiny Alpine nation’s politics since the end of World War II, suggesting that Austrian voters — like their American and British counterparts — are sick of their traditional political elites and ready for something radically new.
The faceoff is between Norbert Hofer, 45, of the euroskeptic, anti-immigration Freedom Party founded by former Nazis in 1955 and Alexander Van der Bellen, 72, a soft-spoken economics professor and former Green Party chairman whose candidacy is not affiliated with the party.
Despite the wide disparity in the candidates’ views, polls suggest the election is too close to predict, reflecting a conflicted electorate as well as widespread political disillusion.
He hasn’t exactly promised to make Austria great again, but Mr. Hofer has run on many of the issues in Donald Trump’s campaign: a distrust of elites and economic globalization, the need to control borders and tighten immigration policies and the threat to national identity, especially from the growing ranks of Muslim immigrants.