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Leonid Bershidsky

Austria Shows Moderates Must Learn to Fight Back

As a far-right politician stands to win the presidency, establishment parties must rediscover their charisma and convictions.
Norbert Hofer, the Austrian Trump.

Norbert Hofer, the Austrian Trump.

Photographer: HARALD SCHNEIDER/AFP/Getty Images

The highly likely election of Norbert Hofer, a far-right politician, as president of Austria this coming Sunday has given rise to intense soul-searching in Austria and beyond. The credibility of centrist parties is clearly waning in Europe, just as centrist politicians have problems finding traction in the U.S., and that is especially worrisome in the German-speaking world: When Hofer uses the word "Volksgemeinschaft" in the program of Austria's Freedom Party, it's the exact same word the Nazis used to justify terror against anyone they thought undermining the German "people's  community."

As the new Austrian chancellor, Social Democrat Christian Kern, put it in his first speech after being confirmed in the job on Wednesday: