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Europe

French National Front hails Austrian far right's presidential success

media FPO candidate for Austria's presoidency, Norbert Hofer Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

The leader of France's National Front (FN) has welcomed the far-right Freedom Party's (FPO) suprise lead in the first round of Austria's presidential election. Marine Le Pen said FPO candidate Norbert Hofer's 36.4 percent score was part of a Europe-wide awakening to the nature of the European Union. Other French politicians were less enthusiastic.

Claiming that "patriotic movements" are on the rise in a large number of European countries, Le Pen pointed out that the FPO, which is allied to her party in the European parliament, had defied the opinion polls' predictions.

"There's clearly a realisation by the European peoples that the European Union is in reality a structure for reducing the peoples to subservience, an anti-democratic structure, which, by the way, has not respected any of its promises of economic development or of protection from the flow of migrants," she told France 2 television on Monday.

Hofer is to face Alexander Van de Bellen, who is backed by the Greens and won 20.4 per cent, in the second round, following a collapse in support for the mainstream right and social democratic parties.

French Green leader David Cormand tweeted that Austrian voters would face a choice between the "brown threat and the green hope", while Socialist Party first secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis declared that "national-populism is haunting Europe".

"A worrying movement is sweeping across the European Union," commented Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, one of the candidates to represent France's mainstream right Republicans in 2017's presidential election. "A eurosceptic, populist movement ... For me 2017 is the last-chance election." 

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