Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the nationalist Freedom Party of Austria, speaks to reporters at a Sept. 8 press conference in Vienna. The FPO's position in opinion polls ahead of Oct. 15 elections has forced its moderate rivals to adopt a tougher stance on immigration.
In a year when the two largest economies in the European Union, Germany and France, held general elections, Austria's Oct. 15 vote doesn't appear to be particularly crucial for the future of the Continental bloc. But the Austrian elections will take place when the European Union is about to start discussing its future after a decade of crisis. This debate will present Central and Eastern Europe -- regions that Vienna sees as its natural sphere of influence -- with a dilemma, as countries will have to decide whether to support deeper Continental integration. If opinion polls are to be trusted, Austria's nationalist right will make a strong showing and may even enter into the next government. An administration in Vienna that is reluctant to participate in the next phase of European integration and is willing to side with other Euroskeptic governments in the region will only make it harder for...
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