You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

World

Bare chests liven up Austria’s election campaign

VIENNA — Austria’s general election campaign is heating up: Two high-profile contenders have gone way beyond rolling up their shirt sleeves — they’ve taken their shirts right off.

Borrowing a page from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s playbook, the beefcake displays are the latest twist in the rivalry between populist candidate Frank Stronach and Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the anti-immigrant and EU-skeptic Freedom Party.

Continue reading below

The two are both seeking the protest vote in Austria’s Sept. 29 election.

Stronach was first to doff his shirt. Wearing jeans and a smile, he revealed a trim 80-year-old upper body as he stood next to his private lake during weekend interviews with Austrian dailies.

Strache responded immediately. A photo of the tanned and athletic 42-year-old clad in swimming trunks appeared Sunday on his Facebook page, with the caption ‘‘top fit in the election campaign!’’

The bare-chest battle went into round two on Monday, with Austria’s major newspapers carrying both photos — along with articles debating whether such displays constituted below-the-belt campaigning. The photos reappeared Tuesday.

The tabloid Oesterreich praised Stronach for ‘‘showing the new self-confidence of the generation ‘60 plus.’ In politics. In fitness. In looks.’’ At the same time, it warned that Strache’s decision to challenge Stronach ‘‘with his fitness-center muscles’’ risks turning the campaign into a circus.

Andreas Schieder, a leading Socialist official, urged both men to focus on the politics of ‘‘naked facts, instead of naked upper bodies.’’

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week