The presidential race pits a milquetoast moderate leftist against another flamboyant anti-immigrant populist.
Austria faces a stark choice on Sunday, just as it did in May when left-leaning Alexander Van der Bellen and the far-right’s Norbert Hofer last faced off to become the country’s president.
Then, Van der Bellen won, but only narrowly, and with the vote later annulled due to counting irregularities, they are doing it all over again.
Wrapping up his campaign in a speech to supporters in Vienna on Friday, the former Green Party leader who is running as an Independent, stressed the extent of what is at stake. Van der Bellen said the election is “not only about two people. It is also about the direction in which our country will go”.
With the race too close to call, his rival, running on an anti-immigration platform, could become the first far-right head of state in a European Union country.
The suspense couldn’t be greater as Van der Bellen tries to stem the tide of anti-establishment populism sweeping Europe and the United States.
But, given the trend — and talk of a so-called Trump effect — Hofer will be hoping the largely ceremonial presidency is now well within reach.