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The right-wing nationalist leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, Herbert Kickl, who holds pro-Russian views, stands a good chance of becoming the country’s next leader, Politico writes.

Since November, the far-right Freedom Party has led national polls by several points as soaring inflation and soaring asylum applications fuel dissatisfaction with the current government.

“That would spell major trouble for the European Union, which is already struggling to cope with Hungary, where nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has systematically taken control of all major levers of power”, reports Politico.

Viktor Orban and Herbert Kickl. Photo: Twitter/Zoltan Kovacs

The situation is similar in Slovakia. The pro-Russian party Smer-SD, whose leader former prime minister Robert Fico was ousted in 2018 amid popular protests, is leading the polls ahead of snap elections scheduled for September. Fico has vowed to end Slovakia’s military support for neighboring Ukraine if he is elected.

European officials warn that a victory for pro-Russian forces in Slovakia and Austria would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a powerful leverage against Ukraine, weakening anti-Russian sanctions and EU efforts to support Kyiv, the author believes.

“It will be a disaster,” a senior Commission official from the region said bluntly.

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