The populist right is set to gain again – this time in Austria

At the end of September, the right-wing AfD became Germany’s third largest party. The populist Freedom Party (FPO) on are on track to coming second in next week’s Austrian legislative election.

The FPO could emerge as Austria's second largest party next weekend.

Back in 2008, the FPO came third, and five years later, they gained ground, closing in on the two main parties. In 2016’s presidential race, the FPO’s Norbert Hofer came a close second behind the independent (and Green member) Alexander Van der Bellen.

This year, it looks like they could emerge as the country’s second largest party in the chamber, and could even join or form a government. Like in Germany before last month’s election, the two largest party’s currently rule together in a grand coalition, something the FPO will hope plays to their advantage, allowing them to position themselves as outsiders.

Opinion polls for the new election, due to take place on 15th October, puts them neck and neck with the centre-left SPO, with some polls putting them ahead.

However, the parallels with the AfD only go so far. The FPO have in fact been in government before. Furthermore, they are currently sitting in the Austrian parliament, whereas Germany's AfD went from nowhere to coming third in last month's election.

That said, the election will likely see them gain seats, in another sign of the populist right making advances right across Europe:

  • Earlier this year, far-right Marine Le Penn came second in the first round of France's presidential race, but lost to centrist Emmanuel Macron in the second round in an election that rocked the country's establishment.
  • Back in March, Geert Wilders' populist party came second in the Dutch elections. Although they did not perform as well as many thought they might have, the election was still a big move forward for the party

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