Trump's victory inspires Austria's far-right presidential hopeful

Presidential candidate Norbert Hofer sees Donald Trump winning the US presidential election as proof that he is on the right track with his populist Austria-first campaign.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Austrian far-right Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer told Reuters he wants to follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump during an interview in his office in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2016.

Far-right Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer sees Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election as proof that he is on the right track with his populist Austria-first campaign, which has involved calls to stop immigration.

Far-right political factions across Europe have been raising their voices in response to Trump's win.

"Wherever the elites distance themselves from voters, those elites will be voted out of office," the Freedom Party's presidential hopeful said in an interview with Reuters.

Like the US president-elect, 45-year-old Hofer sees himself as a nationalist who recognises the concerns of ordinary people who have been ignored by a political establishment.​

"One comparison could be that Trump also had strong [political] headwinds in the US and he won the election anyway," Hofer said.

Trump's triumph and the vote by the majority of the British public in June to quit the European Union have unleashed a populist tsunami that could transform Europe's political landscape.

Austria's presidential run-off on December 4, expected to be a close call, could make Hofer the EU's first far-right head of state. More elections with prominent far-right candidates are set to take place in the Netherlands, France, and Germany next year.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned on Thursday that far-right leader Marine Le Pen could win the presidential election in his country next year, boosted by the momentum of Trump's shock victory in the US.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tries to respond to questions during a session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, on November 16, 2016. (Reuters)

"It's possible," Valls said in response to a question at an economic conference in Berlin on whether the anti-immigration National Front candidate could win in light of the US upset.

Trump "made possible what had previously been presented as impossible," Le Pen said in a recent BBC interview.

She was among the first European politicians to congratulate the Republican on his win last week. Le Pen has praised Trump’s opposition to free trade, globalisation, and the "warlike interventions that are the source of the huge migratory waves that we are suffering."

France's far-right National Front (FN) leader Le Pen was one of the first leaders to congratulate Trump for his win. Behind her, the slogan reads "In the name of the people". (Reuters)

Like Le Pen, Hofer has focused on the refugee crisis, rallying for a ban on what the Freedom Party calls "economic migrants."

Political analysts say that if Hofer wins the Austrian presidency, this could lead to early parliamentary elections.

The Freedom Party has led opinion polls for months, reaching scores of up to 35 percent, leaving centrist parties far behind.

TRTWorld and agencies