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In 2017 there were elections in several European developed countries: Austria, Germany, France and Nederlands. The popular vote for main nationalist party in each of them was as below:

Clearly, nationalists were significantly more successful in Austria.

Question: Why did Austria's nationalist party (Freedom Party) got so many votes as compared to other nationalist parties?

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    Probably all the funding they got from Soros :) – user4012 Oct 27 '17 at 13:11
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    FN in France got 35% for the presidential election. And it lost some percentage because of one major debate. It should have got around 40%. – xrorox Oct 27 '17 at 14:30
  • @xrorox - yes, but I have used only percentages from parliamentary elections which I found more relevant (proportional or nearly proportional representation). – Alexei Oct 27 '17 at 14:32
  • @Alexei You are somehow right. But usually in France, you got massive report on presidential winner. Because even people that don't actually like the winner give him a majority. My number has also a bias, because people that did'nt like Macron voted nationalist. I guess the right number for France should be turn 1 of presidential election. FN was 22%, which is pretty close to usual FN scores. – xrorox Oct 27 '17 at 15:57
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The Freedom Party has been around for quite a while, whereas in Germany, the AfD is a relatively young party, and other nationalist parties such as the NPD are too much of a political fringe movement to reach two-digit election results. Although, in certain German states the NPD did quite well.

The Freedom Party has been part of a governing coalition in the early 2000s and it also part of some provincial governments. I can not say anything about the French and Dutch nationalist parties, but in contrast to Germany, the Freedom party is way more established in Austrian politics.

Furthermore, the Freedom party is not mere a nationalist party. It is heavily populist, which always boosts electoral results. Also, nationalism is not the only topic of the Freedom party.

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I am no expert in Austrian politics, but the success of FPO is consistent and it is periodically mentioned whenever there are elections in Austria.

My understanding is that there are mainly three reasons:

  • The Freedom Party of Austria is the main opposition party basically since it exists. That is because the center-left (SPO) and the center-right (OVP) routinely governed together since the end of World War 2 (see Government of Austria). This was probably a necessity given that Austria was committed to neutrality and even today they are not in NATO.
  • The FPO grouped everybody, but the Socialists and the Christian Democrats. This included liberals and reformed Nazis. Originally they were more liberals, but in the last decades they moved right. Bottom line, they are used to have a fluid ideology and so are they voters.
  • They are popular and they have been for a long time. Which means that many Austrians do not really feel them as a real threat. They may be menacing, but they are not an extra-parlamentarian and violent force.

The last point seems to be true also for foreign governments. They were certainly strong reactions when the FPO first became part of a government after its move to the far right, but relationship were normalized:

In February 2000, Austria's foreign relations cooled down when the ÖVP formed a coalition with the FPÖ after the 1999 election. European governments imposed diplomatic sanctions, and the United States called home its ambassador. The diplomatic sanctions were lifted in September 2000, after a three-member panel assessed human rights and political life in Austria. In November 2000, the United States and Austria normalized their relations.

Foreign relations of Austria

In short, while many people think that it is not acceptable to vote for AfD or FN, it is normal in Austria to vote for FPO. Austrians have elected it in governments and seen that it does not threaten democracy while Germans or French may still fear that AfD or FN might do that.

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