Starter’s orders on Austria’s snap election on September 28, and a top regional boss is back on the national stage. Joerg Haider says it is his “patriotic duty” to run for chancellor and, combined, his party, and the Freedom party he founded but left three years ago, are currently polling around a quarter of the electorate.
This could be fatal news for outgoing Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer’s Social Democrats, and their former conservative “grand coalition” allies.
Haider’s return to the national fray could dynamise the radical Right and voters tired of the centrist establishment’s failure to work together.
But he and the Right’s return could cause unease among EU partners. When they first shared power in Vienna in 1999, Austria was hit with EU sanctions.