The Trump Effect Continues To Sweep Europe. Nationalists Win in Austria!
The Trump effect continues to sweep Europe, as Sebastian Kurz won the chancellorship in Austria’s elections after running on a nationalist platform.
Kurz’s party platform included a hardline stance on immigration, a promise for tax cuts, and a declared opposition to the European Union and declaration of national sovereignty. He has promised to cut access to social welfare benefits for refugees for at least five years.
The swell of anxiety over immigration to Austria began building 2015, when almost 70,000 mostly-Muslim refugees sought asylum from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Schools and hospitals in the nation of 8.7 million struggled to accommodate the newcomers, and disagreements over whether it was fair to give immigrants generous welfare support dominate the media, with Austria also serving as a gateway for nearly 900,000 migrants making their way to Germany.
While serving as Austria’s Foreign Minister, Kurz has already rejected EU reform proposals by France’s Emmanuel Macron, and his victory is seen as a crushing blow for the European Union. He was also one of the backers of the recent law imposed in Austria banning the burka and was instrumental in closing down the Balkan route into Europe used by Middle Eastern refugees.
Today we have won a huge mandate to change this country, and I promise you I will work with all my energy for change.
We want to establish a new culture in politics. And we want to change the country for the better.
Going on to say,
This is a strong mandate for us to bring about change in this country. It’s about establishing a new political style, a new culture.
Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party, the largest party in the last government, fell all the way to third place garnering just 26.3 per cent.
With the Freedom Party poised to return to government for the first time since 2005, as an ally of Kurz’s OVP, congratulations poured in from European nationalists including France’s Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.
Although the OVP has been in government for 30 year and Mr Kurz is one of the cabinet’s longest serving ministers, he has run his campaign with a promise of change. As a member of the EU, Austria could now go on to resist efforts by Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, and France’s Macron to reform the bloc and expand cooperation on issues such as immigration.
“There won’t be a debate to leave the EU, but the Freedom Party is strong enough to demand significant concessions” and may lead Austria to align more often with eastern European countries that have challenged Merkel on issues including migration, said Thomas Hofer, a political consultant in Vienna. “Austria has mostly been an ally of Germany for decades, but that picture could change more often now,” Hofer said.
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