Is Austria Moving to the Right?

The following analysis by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff of the Austrian general election was published last Tuesday by JournalistenWatch. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:

Is Austria Moving (Briefly)[1] to the Right?

Analysis by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
October 17, 2017

So elections to the National Assembly are — it is tempting to say, finally — finished, and for the assembled worldwide press the name of the future Chancellor is Sebastian Kurz, wunderkind, the Danube Messiah (©Focus), savior of an Austria which had been Islamized and run into the ground by the Grand Coalition. But wait — even Austrian internal politics does not move that fast.

Sebastian Kurz, chief of the New (old) Folk Party (ÖVP), achieved a notable victory on Sunday, ahead of the Socialists Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the invigorated Freedom Party (FPÖ). After a weak campaign, internal discussions and a fatal split (resulting in the Pilz List), the Greens exited the National Assembly. The NEOS managed to stay. All other parties were too small to jump the 4% barrier.

The ÖVP waged a nearly flawless — albeit rather bland and insubstantial — campaign. What is remembered is just Kurz hammering on having personally closed the West Balkan route and his promise of a new style in a new government. Criticism of Kurz’s shared responsibility in the chaos proceeding from a unanimity of opinion in the cabinet — especially in the matters of the immigration and asylum crisis, and expanded national debt — bounced off him. Unfortunately, the FPÖ failed to reproach him with the collapse of the Islam Law and the associated, continuing Islamization of Austria. Taking effect in 2015,the Austrian Islam Law became a disaster, as confirmed by Chancellor Kern and Minister of Justice Brandstätter. Kurz, as well as Kern and Brandstätter had been informed of the law’s defects before it went into effect.

The SPÖ campaign was shaped by proverbial busts, bad luck and bloopers. The SPÖ’s good result in Vienna can be traced to Mayor Michael Häupl’s propagation of the blue-black bogeyman image, to the great number of immigrants naturalized in recent years, and to the Greens’ inability to recognize the signs of the times. The Vienna result saved the SPÖ from an even greater debacle.

The FPÖ conducted what was a comparatively calm campaign for it, tailored entirely to the personality of H.C. Strache, who was markedly laid-back and statesmanlike. This suited him well, since formation of a government without the FPÖ, i.e., Strache, will not be possible. The FPÖ’s social media campaign with humorous videos can be designated especially successful. Even though Kurz and his ÖVP appropriated many of the FPÖ’s topics, most of the voters were apparently able to distinguish the two parties.

Something to think about is that Austria has probably moved right — much to the displeasure of Juncker and friends — but not nearly as far to the right as believed. In the past two decades, the ÖVP has moved massively to the left; the SPÖ — pressured by the immigration crisis has moved to the right; and now there is a relatively clear majority to the right of center. So this categorization, according to the experts, no longer applies.

So what will happen now in Austria? Will Sebastian Kurz “shortly”[1] become the new head of government — the youngest in the world? It looks like that, but the SPÖ under outgoing Chancellor Kern — focused on preserving its power — could upset those calculations by offering the FPÖ all of the ministries now headed by the ÖVP. Strache will (have to) carefully consider this offer. Tactically, the ÖVP is holding much worse cards. A renewed coalition with the SPÖ seems impossible in light of Kurz’s declaration of a new style in the government. You don’t get together with the party you have accused of a bad style, without expecting an immediate loss of credibility and a 15% fall in the polls. And Strache will not make choosing him as junior partner cheap for the ÖVP.

A problem for the SPÖ could be the still-valid decision from their party convention never to enter into a coalition with the FPÖ. To be sure this decision was softened by a so-called catalogue of values. Many in the SPÖ, especially the rebellious left wing, will not accept a red-blue coalition without protest. A split in the party in the face of this situation does not seem impossible.

Now we just have to wait for the official result, which is expected Thursday. After that, the federal president will designate the one with the most votes — that is, Sebastian Kurz — to initiate coalition talks [which has occurred since this report was written]. Since the SPÖ has declared itself ready for talks, the ÖVP will talk with both Reds and Blues and the decide with whom they want to negotiate. At any rate, parallel negotiations are quite possible, that is, Kurz with his new ÖVP could find himself in the opposition.

What is the saying — Anything is possible. Exciting times are coming for Austrians. But Angela Merkel will have to keep an eye on Austria too, because there will be no Werner Faymann (the former Chancellor), who at first supported her “We can do it.”

Translator’s note:

1.   Kurz is not just the name of the 31-year-old political prodigy, but also the word for “brief(ly),” “short(ly),” etc., so there are at least a couple of punning uses here that I am unable to do justice to. Just imagine Sebastian Kurz is Martin Short, and I am taking full advantage of that adjective/adverb.

Photo (not shown): Sebastian Cruz, Austrian Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

8 thoughts on “Is Austria Moving to the Right?

  1. Good article. I am happy for Strache and all his supporters. A lot of Austrians on the right do not trust that Kurz will turn out to be a true conservative, they think he’s a phony. My gut tells me he will keep his word and reduce the tide on Mass immigration. I like him like a lot of Austrians do, he seems moral, even if he has already influenced some huge, irreversible mistakes concerning mass migration of 3rd world immigrants. It’s time now for him to do his best to atone for his political sins and raw ambition of his recent years as a very young man.
    He has a lot of strengths, that’s obvious, and I hope God blesses him in
    his ministry. All the best to you Austrians! You are definitely ” the better Germans.”

    • I’m not to sure about that. It could very well be a replay of the French Macron bit. Young, ambitious, rightish and turning out to be a dud.

  2. This Thursday a proposal by a Swedish MEP for permanent mandatory migrant quotas ( “a permanent and automatic relocation mechanism without thresholds” calculated on GDP and population size ) was voted 43 – 16 in favor in the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament. If this proposal is not struck down in the plenary, member states will be forced to take in migrants or loose their EU funding.

    If Austria is moving to the right, it better do it fast, because it already has too many muslims with Austrian passports.

    • That would only for the EU to disintegrade faster, because if the funding is stopped, who would continue to send their mandatory payments? Countries like Hungary would probably just call their people back from Brussels. But maybe it would celebrate Marcon’s two-speed Europe, with the lost West on it’s own and the rest left with a brain preparing to protect itself.

      • My point is I don’t believe that the Swedes themselves want a percentage of the millions upon millions upon millions of migrants who will want to make their way to Europe in the near future. And yet, there is a democratically elected Swedish MEP who wants to flood Europe with migrants and spread the misery everywhere. And over 70% of the democratically elected at national levels MEPs in that commission agree with this insanity. It seems that the democratic election process has been perverted, where the politicians have no allegiance to the voters and are not held accountable to them. We all need to elect representatives for our interests at the local, national and international levels.

        • The discrepancy between propaganda and reality in Sweden is not large enough yet. Things in Sweden will have to become much worse before the Swedish voter will begin to scratch his head.

  3. I keep being surprised by the assimilation of “common sense” and “realism” with “the right or extreme right”. Fundamentally this is then a compliment; contrary to being a leftist with the dark, blood swallowing shadow of the – never denied – left’s past (no need to expand). For me LEFT = a dangereous mental derangement and should be aapproached as such

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