The Austrian Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer—now once again in the running as his party’s presidential candidate following the annulment of the previous election—warned only last week that a referendum, on his country’s European Union membership, was a strong possibility.
Speaking in an interview with the Österreich newspaper last Sunday, Hofer warned that any move by the EU toward “political centralization” and Turkish membership would result in a referendum on membership of the bloc within a year.
Asked if the Brexit vote had been a shock, Hofer said that a “democratic decision never causes me shock. The voters are always right.
“But now the EU has to respond to it, because otherwise the citizens of other countries may follow suit,” he said.
Asked how the EU should react to the Brexit vote, Hofer said that from his perspective, the EU “must reflect on what they have created: the founders wanted to establish close economic cooperation, because states which cooperate economically generally do not make war against each other. This worked very well until it was transformed into a political union.”
Asked if this meant that the EU should revert back to the status of a common market, he said “not quite, but certainly we need to negotiate new agreements.
“That will not be easy—but otherwise there is a real danger that the EU will fall apart.”
The paper then asked him if there should be a vote on an “Öxit” [German for “Auxit”]. Hofer said that if the “EU continues to be incorrectly constituted and becomes centralized—and if Turkey should join it—then for me the moment would come to ask the Austrian people to decide if they still want to be part of it.”
He said that the decision had to be taken within the next year.
*Asked about how the EU should now deal with Britain, Hofer said that it would be simple to “conclude bilateral agreements such as the EU currently has with Switzerland. That would be the most reasonable way.”