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In troubled times, Europe asks: What does being 'European' really mean?

From islanders on the front lines of the refugee crisis, to those living in Europe’s biggest metropolises, to those tucked into rural communities far removed from the politics of their capitals, many feel that the European Union is at a crossroads.

Sibylle Hamann, a journalist in Vienna, Austria

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Sbylle Hamann, journalist, Austria.

Her country could be the first in the European Union to elect a far-right leader as president when Austrians head to the polls Oct. 2 for an election re-run, after the first vote was declared null due to voting irregularities. Neither the center-right nor center-left will be competing: neither made it to round two.

"I’m born in Vienna, the father of my kids is born in Vienna, and our kids are born in Vienna. So we are totally Viennese. [My identity] is very strongly Viennese. And I would also agree that it is European, but not Austrian. Because I have very [little] in common with people who live in the mountains somewhere. … [In Europe] I just see disintegration all over the place. I only see national interests working....

"We have lived through 20 years of pro-European euphoria, at least I have, and I always thought that we were taking one step after the other towards more integration. And all the sudden it’s that you see when people aren’t ready to take these steps, it’s not going to happen. And you do see people in power in different places and maybe even so in Austria who will just undo this completely. For the first time I really see that this is possible."

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