11:12 GMT +319 July 2019
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    A man walks between election posters of Alexander Van der Bellen, candidate for presidential elections and former head of the Austrian Greens, right, and Norbert Hofer, candidate for presidential elections of Austria's right-wing Freedom Party, FPOE, left, in Vienna, Austria

    Austria Presidential Hopeful Not to Repeat French Far-Right 2002 Defeat

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    The outcome of the second round of the Austrian presidential election will not be similar to the situation seen in France in 2002, when French voters united around Jacques Chirac to ensure the defeat of far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, Jean-Luc Schaffhausser, a French member of the European Parliament, told Sputnik Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Sunday, Austria will hold the second round of its presidential elections, with two candidates competing for the post. The candidate from the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), Norbert Hofer, topped the first round in late April, securing 35 percent of the vote. He will face the Greens-backed Alexander van der Bellen, who gained 21 percent of support.

    “I think it is not the same in Austria as in France in 2002. The FPO is stronger. The two major Austrian parties are out of the game. The situation is fantastic. There is a possibility to win [for the Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer]," the lawmaker, who is a member of the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group in the European Parliament, told Sputnik.

    The  candidates from the two mainstream Austrian parties – the Social-Democratic Party (SPO) and the Austrian People's Party (OVP) that currently form ruling government coalition — lagged behind in the first round of the vote, each only managing to win 11 percent of the vote.

    After Hofer's strong performance, which was unexpected by many and not predicted by any polls, some pundits suggested that the main parties would rally around van der Bellen simply to avoid a far-right victory.

    Hofer has been campaigning on anti-immigrant and anti-EU platform. According to opinion polls, support for his party exceeds currently 30 percent, making it likely that the FPO will enter the federal government following the parliamentary elections, due in 2018.

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    presidential hopeful, defeat, Norbert Hofer, Jean-Luc Schaffhausser, Austria
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