VIENNA — Austrians rejected a right-wing populist to represent them as head of state by a wafer-thin margin last year. But after a general campaign focused on immigration and rocked by scandal, voters appear poised in elections this Sunday to give populism a new push by granting a far-right party at least a share of power in the next government.
The recent Austrian presidential election, followed by the defeat of far-right candidates in the Netherlands and in France this year, appeared to blunt the surge of populism in Europe. But last month, the far-right Alternative for Germany party won more than 90 seats in the German Parliament, making it the third-largest bloc in the legislature. A strong performance in Austria by the far-right Freedom Party could give populists additional momentum.