Norbert Hofer.jpg
Photograph: EPA/FILIP SINGER

Far-right populist parties in France, Italy and Germany welcomed the victory of Austria's Freedom Party (FPOe) in the first round of presidential elections as a protest against the European Union.

"There is clearly a growing awareness among people in Europe that the EU is an anti-democratic structure that subjugates people," Marine Le Pen, head of France's Front National, said Monday.

People are starting to realize that the EU is not keeping its promises to foster economic growth and curb immigration, she added in an interview with broadcaster France 2.

Norbert Hofer, of the far-right FPOe, won 35 per cent of the vote Sunday, while the Green contender, Alexander Van der Bellen, came in second with 21 per cent. The two politicians will enter a run-off May 22.

The FPOe is "calling for controlled migration, more jobs and a different Europe - like us they want rules, order, jobs and tranquillity," said Matteo Salvini, head of Italy's far-right Northern League movement.

Frauke Petry, leader of Germany's anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, took to Twitter to congratulate Hofer.

Hofer warned late Sunday that, as president, he would consider dismissing the centrist government of social democrats and conservatives as a measure of last resort if there is no progress on boosting the economy.

If elected, Hofer said he would also refuse to sign a planned US-EU trade deal into law and would instead put the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) up for a referendum.

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