Central Banker Sees Austria `Burdened' If Anti-EU Head Picked

Austrian central bank president Claus Raidl, a long-time executive in the country’s steel industry, said anti-European Union politician Norbert Hofer will be a liability abroad for the nation if elected as next president.

“If Hofer is elected, it will certainly be a burden for Austria,” Raidl, who now heads the central bank’s supervisory body, said in comments published Tuesday in WirtschaftsBlatt newspaper. Raidl pointed to a diplomatic boycott imposed on Austria by the EU after the late anti-immigrant populist Joerg Haider led the Freedom Party to become part of a coalition government in 2000.

Sixteen years later, Freedom’s candidate Hofer has promised to upset the Alpine country’s political order if he wins a May 22 presidential run-off election against former Green Party leader Alexander van der Bellen.

Hofer, who vows to “defend” Austria against an influx of refugees, has said that as president he may dismiss the government, would refuse to sign off on selected laws, such as a planned free-trade agreement between the EU and the U.S., and may insist on his participation in EU summits.

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