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Austria's Norbert Hofer: the far-right's 'soft' face

Far-right Freedom Party favorite Norbert Hofer drops his ballot at the polling station at the first round of Austrian President elections on April 24, 2016 in Pinkafeld, near ViennaAustria’s far-right has a new golden boy in the shape of Norbert Hofer, a smooth-talking gun enthusiast who sent shock waves through the political establishment by defying polls and shooting to the top in Sunday’s first round of a presidential ballot. Described as the “friendly face” of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), the 45-year-old caught everyone by surprise, not least the country’s centrist parties whose candidates failed to even make it into the runoff on May 22. Many voters disgruntled with the ruling coalition, made up of the Social Democrats (SPOe) and conservative People’s Party (OeVP), flocked to Hofer and his promise of “putting Austria first”.

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