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The Future of Austria's Far Right

Its Freedom Party Threatens the European Project

Head of Austria's far right Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache and former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer address the media in Vienna, Austria, December 2016.  Heinz-Peter Bader / REUTERS

The defeats of right-wing populists in the Austrian presidential election in late 2016 and Dutch parliamentary elections in early 2017 have been reassuring for supporters of the European project. Over the past 15 years, Euroskepticism and anti-immigrant sentiment have attracted considerable support across Europe. Yet their electoral performance has so far been less than impressive. In turn, such parties no longer seem to constitute an existential threat to the European Union. (In Foreign Affairs, Pierpaolo Barbieri recently wrote about a “reverse domino effect” after the relative defeat of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party in the Netherlands.)

Moreover, upcoming French presidential and German parliamentary elections bode well for the EU. To be sure, the stakes in France are enormous: a victory by National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of elections could mean nothing less than the end of European integration and the EU as we know them. Yet it seems unlikely

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