It’s a pivotal moment for politics in Austria, as the ÖVP (Österreichische Volkspartei, Austrian People’s Party) and the FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, Austrian Freedom Party) launch a new coalition government with Sebastian “Boy” Kurz (ÖVP) as chancellor and Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) as vice-chancellor.
The last time there was a coalition between the ÖVP and the FPÖ was in early 2000 when the late Jörg Haider was the leader of the latter party. The EU threatened to impose sanctions on Austria for its inclusion of right-wing extremists in the government. A major crisis was only averted by the resignation of Mr. Haider as the party’s leader. Back then there were only 15 member states of the EU, so reaching consensus for a similar cordon sanitaire this time will probably be more difficult.
Egri Nök tells me that a German public broadcast today referred to Mr. Kurz as a Pimpf, a Hitler Youth Boy. She says, “They are going totally ape[redacted].”
The following report by Egri was posted earlier today at Vlad Tepes in a slightly different form.
The Trump Effect Is Coming To Austria — New Government Announces Program
by Egri Nök
[Photo caption: Sebastian Kurz, ÖVP, will be Europe’s youngest leader, 31 years old. FPÖ-chief Heinz-Christian Strache (r.) will be vice-chancellor.]
An original translation from Die Welt:
Austrian Government Program
Asylum seekers to hand over mobile phones and cash
Austria will adopt a new style with the new ÖVP-FPÖ government. This had been clear for quite a while. But what are the plans of the coalition under the new chancellor Kurz? The government program “For our Austria”, Für unser Österreich, details it.
After seven weeks of negotiations, ÖVP and FPÖ agreed on a 182-page strong government program for the next five years. The coalition of conservatives and right-wing-populists declare their clear dedication for the EU.
The preface of the pact says: “A strong Austria, where we can seize the opportunities of the 21st century, can only exist in a strong Europe”. A fundament of solid politics was, among others, comprised of the basic principles of the European Union. The parties’ councils approved the pact late Friday evening unanimously.
But what exactly does “Together. For our Austria” say? Some of the points were already excerpted on Saturday. But what do general statements like “stop illegal migration” and “speed up asylum proceedings” really mean? These are the most important of the planned measures.
Migration and refugees
- Whoever applies for asylum in Austria will have to hand over all of his cash at the time of application. The sum is to be used to cover the basic supply costs.
- Asylum seekers have to hand over their mobile phones to the authorities. These will analyse the phone data, to clarify identities (for example in social networks) and to verify the purported travel route. The smart phones won’t be completely confiscated, though.
- Quicker withdrawal of the protection status at travels to the homeland.
- During the asylum procedure, asylum seekers will receive non-cash benefits only, no more cash.
- The obligation of medical confidentiality will be suspended, when illnesses of an asylum seeker are “relevant to the basic supply”.
- Refugee children will learn German in so-called bridge classes. Until now, they were integrated directly into the school system.
- The list of safe countries of origin will be expanded.
- The monetary benefit for asylants and subsidiary protected people will be reduced to a base benefit of €365 and a potential integration bonus of €155 Euro. Family benefits will be capped to €1,500.
- The government will lower the tax burden in the next five years. The lowering of the wage and income tax will mean keeping more net from your gross.
- Families especially will be unburdened with a tax bonus. Among others, a tax bonus of €1,500 per child and family is offered.
- The tax burden will be lowered to 40 percent.
- An 2,100 additional police officers will be hired during the next five years.
- Citizenship will be “newly reshaped”, according to the coalition paper. It is now defined as the “completion of a successful process of integration”.
- Closing down Islamic kindergartens and Islamic private schools when they do not fulfil the legal requirements.
- The government intends a dramatic toughening of punishments for sex crimes. Particularly for assaults on women and children.
- Clubs that are financed by, for example, religious societies in foreign countries, will be consequently shut down. The club law will be reworked to plug loopholes.
- Employment Law will be eased to make the Austrian employment market more attractive for companies.
- More flexible working hours for employees.
- Considering enshrining Christmas and holiday benefits for employees in law.
- A minimum pension of €1,200 Euros for low-wage workers after 40 years on the job.
- More funding and more positions at universities, to counteract the exodus of young scientists.
- ÖVP and FPÖ want a definite termination of the EU accession negotiations with Turkey, and they are looking for “allies” for that. Instead, Vienna wants a “European-Turkish neighbor concept”.
- The government wants to promote better coordination of the EU member states in protecting the outer European borders.
- As long as this is not secured, the national borders will be secured by all measures.
Download the full program as PDF here (in German).
Translator’s note: remember how bleak Austria’s prospects seemed not long ago.