Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sebastian Kurz's People's Party Wins Parliamentary Elections in Austria - UPDATED!

At the Guardian U.K., "Conservative Sebastian Kurz on track to become Austria’s next leader: Centre of political gravity shifts right as projections put 31-year-old Kurz’s Austrian People’s party ahead in election with 31.7%."

And at WaPo, "Austria turns sharply to the right in an election shaped by immigration":
Early exit polls of Austria's Oct. 15 election, suggest Sebastian Kurz, will take his party into a very narrow majority — positioning himself as the next chancellor. The 31-year old conservative is known for his pledge to take the country into a more hard line stance against the influx of refugees and migrants.

BERLIN — Austria became the latest European country to take a sharp turn right on Sunday, with the conservative People’s Party riding a hard-line position on immigration to victory in national elections and likely to form a government with a nationalist party that has long advocated for an even tougher stance.

The result puts the 31-year-old foreign minister and People’s Party leader, Sebastian Kurz, in line to become Austria’s next chancellor after a campaign in which he emphasized the need to strengthen border controls, reduce caps on refugees and slash benefits for newcomers.

Much of Kurz’s rhetoric echoed positions long held by the Freedom Party, which for decades has anchored the far right of politics in this nation of 8.7 million.

With nearly all results counted as of Monday morning, the Freedom Party was in second place at 27.4 percent, with the ruling Social Democrats trailing close behind at 26.7 percent. The People’s Party was the decisive winner, at 31.6 percent.

“I’ll fight with all my strength for change in this country,” Kurz told cheering supporters — many clad in turquoise, the color he adopted to signal a new era for the People’s Party after decades of identification with black. “There’s a lot to do.”

Two years after Austria was among the more welcoming nations in Europe for refugees fleeing en masse across the continent, the results revealed just how sour public sentiment has turned. Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war, oppression and poverty passed through the central European nation on their way to destinations farther north and west in late 2015 and early 2016. Tens of thousands stayed in the country and applied for asylum protection.

“Austrians are fearful because of immigration and the refugee crisis,” said Reinhard Heinisch, a political scientist at the University of Salzburg. “Kurz addressed these fears, and played with these fears.”

As in other elections across Europe this year, the far right made significant progress, but not enough to triumph.

In France this spring, National Front leader Marine Le Pen made it to the final round of the presidential election. Just last month, the Alternative for Germany Party took 13 percent of the vote — putting a far-right party in the German Parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

But unlike in those nations, in Austria the far right is expected to become part of the government. Kurz will need a coalition partner to form a majority in the parliament, and the Freedom Party is considered the most likely option.

If he goes that route, it would end a “grand coalition” between Austria’s center left and center right that has led the country for the past decade, and for much of its modern history.

Some on Sunday called on Kurz to avoid teaming up with the Freedom Party...
A lot of good that'll do. Kurz himself is a former neo-Nazi, according to Sunday's report at the New York Times. I don't care for anyone with that kind of background and I denounce them. But I think it's just deserts for the radical left, who opened up Europe to the Muslim invasion, and thus opened up the European democracies to a resurgence of nativist, even racist, political parties.

More.

UPDATE: Correction, it's not Kurz who belonged to neo-Nazi groups previously, but Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, which came in second in Sunday's election and is likely to enter the government in a coalition with Kurz's People's Party.

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