Three out of five Austrians want a “strong man” to lead the country and two out of five think things were not all bad under Adolf Hitler, according to a survey released on Friday.
Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary next week of Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany, the Market Institut poll for newspaper Der Standard found 61 per cent of respondents, mostly the elderly, liked the idea of a strong man as leader.
Many Austrians wanted a union, or Anschluss , with Germany in 1938. A few Austrians put up resistance that grew over time.
In the latest poll, 53 per cent thought the Anschluss was voluntary and 46 per cent saw Austria as a victim. Forty-two per cent said “not everything was bad under Hitler” while 57 per cent saw no good aspects to the Hitler era.
The poll suggests Austria’s centrist coalition of Social Democrats and conservatives faces a substantial proportion of voters skeptical about the democratic principles the neutral country has espoused since the Second World War. Reuters Polls show right-wing parties are poised to do well in elections due by September, although the coalition parties remain in the lead.