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Austria: extreme right seems one step closer to obtaining power

It seems as if the ultra-nationalist is seeking to form a coalition with the child prodigy of the European nation

Austria: extreme right

Leer en Español: Austria: La extrema derecha acaricia el poder

The conservative Popular Party (ÖVP) won the elections in Austria on October 15th, with an estimated vote above 31.6%, ahead of the Social Democratic Party, SPÖ, 26.9%, and the ultranationalist Liberal Party, FPÖ, with 26%, respectively. The ÖVP during campaign used a rhetoric against immigrants and foreigners, although there were differences and clashes in the electoral disputes against other political parties.

The candidacy of Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old and who has been given the nickname of child prodigy, allowed the party to become the most voted in the country, a situation that had not happened since 2002. The new Austrian Chancellor will become the youngest leader of the world.

But Austria’s turn towards the extreme right seems to bring on new risks for the European nation. Improving its results from the elections of 2013, the FPÖ has obtained 26% of the ballots, close to its best historical record obtained in 1999. Due to this, the government can form a coalition with the conservative party like the one that previously worked back in 1999 and 2006.

Unlike other countries of the European Union, in Austria the political presence of the ultra-right is not abnormal and, on the contrary, is a force strong enough that political coalitions are usually not necessary. Even the Social Democrats, SPÖ, who accused the FPÖ of "overturning the population against minorities", have not ruled out reaching agreements for this new period.

Sunday's results seem to allow two different paths: either consolidate a Great Coalition like the one that has ruled Austria for the last decade or the far right returns to power. The second option seems to be the preferred in Vienna, taking into account the rhetoric and the campaign that was used. Although FPÖ and ÖVP were criticized in the campaign for the conservative and Islamophobic feel, on paper they have more similarities than discrepancies on migratory matters, as both want to stop the arrival of migrants to Austria.

From entering the government, this right-wing formula would collide with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In addition, the FPÖ in the campaign raised the possibility of joining the Visegrad Group, an alliance formed by Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, which would distance them from Brussels and share a strong anti-migration sentiment.

According to tradition, after the elections, the current chancellor Christian Kern turned in his resignation and that of his government to President Alexander Van der Bellen. Following protocol, the president asked the government to continue until the consolidation of the new administration.  

 

Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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