Austria’s former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer has warned that his country could hold a British-like referendum on leaving the European Union within a year.
The far-right leader of the Freedom Party (FPOe), who narrowly failed to become the head of state in last month’s presidential run-off in Austria, warned the EU to avoid any moves towards political “centralization.”
“If a course is set within a year further towards centralization instead of taking (the EU’s) core values into account, then we must ask Austrians whether they want to be members,” he said.
Hofer made the threat after the British people voted on Thursday to leave the European Union.
Hofer and his allies believe that the union should be based on economic rather than political cooperation.
“The founding fathers (of the EU) wanted to ensure closer economic cooperation because states that cooperate economically do not wage war against each other,” Hofer said. “That worked very well until the political union was founded.”
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, however, ruled out the possibility of holding a referendum on EU membership, which is dubbed “Auxit” vote.
The Brexit, which sent shortwaves around the world, has raised speculations that anti-EU sentiments among the European citizens would cause many such moves across the continent.
Far-right parties in France, Netherlands and Italy have already called for similar referendums in their countries.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said earlier the EU had to become “more relevant, deliver added value to our lives, jobs, growth, control of our external borders.” He said he personally felt “this strong discontent” with Europe.
The 27 remaining members of the union will hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss Britain’s departure and the future of the bloc without Britain.