Senior politicians from Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party celebrated the upset victory of Donald Trump at an election-night party in Trump Tower in New York. This Sunday, when their nation goes to the polls, they will be hoping for an improbable presidency of their own. Mr. Trump’s win has energized populist politicians across Europe who echo his criticism of immigration, free trade and international institutions and calls for improved ties with Russia. But nowhere, perhaps, is the jubilation as great as in Austria, where the Freedom Party now sees years of quiet efforts to establish ties with conservative Republicans in the U.S. paying off just as its own candidate stands on the verge of the Austrian presidency. The party’s Norbert Hofer is running neck-and-neck with center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in the polls ahead of Austria’s runoff presidential election on Sunday. Mr. Hofer’s victory would give the Freedom Party—long ostracized for its xenophobic rhetoric and past links to former Nazis—the Austrian presidency for the first time.
Unlike in the U.S., the position is largely ceremonial, but a win would still anoint the first right-wing populist head of state in modern Western Europe, accelerating the sweep of antiestablishment politics across the continent and giving Mr. Trump a new ally abroad.
The links between Mr. Trump’s domestic allies and the populist politicians from the Alpine country of 8 million were on display in November as a Freedom Party delegation toured the East Coast.