The far Right has made a grand return in Austria, emerging from yesterday’s elections as the second biggest parliamentary block, according to preliminary results.Ear plugs are likely to be needed because when in 2000 the Freedom Party won 27% and entered the ruling coalition, Austria’s European Union partners had hysterics and actually imposed some sanctions on the country – a curious response to a democratic event.
The two parties that campaigned on an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union ticket have captured about 29 per cent of the vote, pushing the country’s traditional conservative party into third place
Far Right storms election as Austrians back anti-EU rhetoric Bojan Pancevski in Vienna The Times September 29, 2008
The leader of the Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, is outspoken, as The Times noted:
Speaking at his final election rally in Vienna’s working-class district of Favoriten on Friday, he said that people were scared to see women in burkas running around ‘like female Ninjasâ€?, and added: ‘Many decent people have come here and they integrated: Poles, Hungarians, Croats and also Serbs. We are all European brothers because we do not want to become Islamised.’His disdain for Islam extends to culinary matters. ‘One should not roast mutton in council flats. I would also not grill a wild pig in Istanbul,’he has declared.(In 2000, the Freedom Party was led by Jorg Haider, who was forced out as too moderate and consequently founded the Alliance for Austria’s Future, which he now leads.)
Mr Strache has attacked the EU with equal venom, railing at ‘capitalists and the neo-liberals’ who were turning common people into “slave workers of the European Union”.
Both parties dislike both the EU and immigration, particularly non-European. Interestingly, the Social Democrats, the main liberal party, did slightly better that its coalition partner People’s Party, by losing only 7% of the vote to come slightly ahead of the combined right at 30%. This was by also adopting an anti-EU stance:
The social democrats (SP?–), under a new leader, Werner Faymann… (were) supported by the main rightwing and fiercely anti-EU tabloid, Kronenzeitung, after he promised to put new EU treaties to a referendum in a country that matches Britain in Euro-scepticism.Austria’s neighbor Switzerland has been similarly unenthusiastic about being transformed as we have noted here and here.
Extreme right emerges as strong force in Austria Ian Traynor The Guardian Monday September 29, 2008
Nations do not like being destroyed. Perhaps the inevitable isn’t inevitable.