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Has Austria Found the Answer to Right-Wing Populism?

Why Center-Right Parties Are the Establishment’s Best Bet

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache address the media after a cabinet meeting in Vienna, April 2018.  Heinz-Peter Bader / REUTERS

The specter of populism continues to haunt Europe. The so-called European establishment has yet to find a meaningful response to counter those on the far left and far right who claim that they, and only they, represent the true will of the people. The latest manifestation of this trend occurred last weekend when a populist far-right anti-immigration party with roots in neo-Nazism had its best-ever showing in Sweden’s general elections. Social democratic parties in particular are in a state of deep crisis—center-left parties are currently part of only six EU governments out of the 28 member states—and have found it difficult to rally voters around their traditional agenda of social justice and redistributive economic policies. As these ideas are taken for granted by the majority of the European public, social democratic parties simply seem to be no longer benefiting from them at the polls.

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