Strache, 39, led his Freedom party to 18% of the vote in an early general election on Sunday. His former boss and mentor-turned-rival, JÃƒÂ¶rg Haider, single-handedly steered his breakaway far-right Movement for Austria’s Future to 11% – meaning that almost one in three Austrians who voted opted for the extreme right.
“A unique case among the western democracies,” said Profil yesterday as Viennese liberals reeled from the results of an election that put the far right comfortably ahead of the mainstream conservatives of the Austrian People’s party and neck-and-neck with the Social Democrats, who narrowly won the election.
It will be very difficult for any party to muster a parliamentary majority. The only options are for the Social Democrats to invite Strache into government, or to form another “grand coalition” with the Christian Democrats. Such a coalition collapsed in June after 18 months in office, and another attempt could fire a bigger protest vote for Strache next time.
The Freedom party last stunned Europe in 1999, when Haider led it to second place with 27% of the vote, and a place in government. On Sunday, under Strache, the combined far right did even better, while the big parties did much worse.