Austria: EU hypocrisy

In the days following Austria’s General election, both Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission and the country’s President, Alexander van der Bellen, have had a gentle word with Sebastian Kurz, the man who will soon be sworn in as the country’s new Chancellor, about forming a coalition.

The  31-year old Kurz has been told that he must be a good boy and form a “pro-European” government – in other words, his party, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). must share power with the Social Democrats (SPÖ), who came in third place, rather than the second-placed Freedom Party (FPÖ), led by Heinz-Christian Strache. Juncker has not hidden his feelings about the FPÖ. “I do not like them,” he said bluntly. “With these right-wing populists, it is neither possible to debate nor having a dialogue.”

The advice is likely to fall on deaf ears. At one point during the campaign, the €urosceptic FPÖ was in pole position. Kurz’s tactics which resulted in his party overtaking them and gaining the largest share of the vote were simple – to borrow the FPÖ’s tough language on immigration. It worked, but given the consequential blurring of the lines between the ÖVP and the FPÖ, a coalition between these two parties looks far more likely than a left-right coalition involving the SPÖ.

An ÖVP/FPÖ coalition would not be the first as the two parties governed Austria together between 2000 and 2005. At the time, the inclusion of a party like the FPÖ in a government of an EU country was greeted with horror.  “The far right is in power”, screamed the headlines at the time and the other member states imposed diplomatic sanctions upon Austria. This achieved nothing and they were quietly dropped a few months later.

However, the FPÖ’s success in last Sunday’s elections has once again cast the spotlight on its past.  According to Wikipedia (And if the article was incorrect, it would have been subject to challenge), the party’s first leader  was Anton Reinthaller, who was a former Nazi Minister of Agriculture and an SS officer. Even now, over seventy years after the end of the Second World War, anyone with connections to Hitler is regarded as highly suspect. Another €urosceptic party with a dubious figure in its past is the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) party whose first auditor, Gustaf Ekström, was a Waffen-SS veteran, again according to Wikipedia. The media has ensured that this fact is widely known.

So two European political parties are beyond the pale because of their Nazi connections. Fair enough, but what about Hans Josef Globke, the Chief in staff to West Germany’s Chancellor Konrad Adenauer? Adenauer  is regarded as one of the founding fathers of European unification and was even commemorated as such on a special gold Belgian coin in 2002. His Chief of staff, however,  was involved in drafting legislation on the confiscation of Jewish property and removal of their political rights during the Hitler years. The first President of the European Commission,  Walter Hallstein,  was involved with the Nazis, although the Wikipedia article about him seeks to play this down.

The EU’s recent meddling in Ukraine has been aided and abetted by militias with Nazi sympathies, but no one in Brussels seems to care. It seems that dragging up unsavoury details from the past is merely a useful tool for turning public feeling against €urosceptic groups.

For anyone seeking a more balanced commentary on Austria’s election, this blog, written by an English expat resident in that country, provides a helpful antidote to all the hysteria. No one is denying that Austria has taken a tough line on migration. Kurz, who was Foreign minister before becoming Chancellor, was instrumental in this. Furthermore, although our blogger does not expect Austria, whether or not the FPÖ ends up as part of the government, formally to join the Visegrad group, he thinks it likely that Kurz will  stand with them in refusing to accept large numbers of Moslem immigrants.  He is also reckoned to be distinctly unsympathetic to Emmanuel Macron’s blueprint for  closer integration within the €urozone.

In summary,  for all the lashing out at the “far right” by the media and pro-EU politicians, Austria’s election, like Germany’s last month, shows that a sizeable and growing body of voters across the EU are distinctly unimpressed with the federalist vision of Juncker and his fellow-travellers. No wonder Brexit is seen as being such a distraction in Brussels; keeping some members of the remaining EU-27 in order is becoming increasingly difficult and the standoff over Catalonia, the forthcoming elections in the Czech Republic later this month and in Italy next year are most likely to cause a few more headaches for the EU élite.

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  1. Edward SpaltonReply

    DR HALLSTEIN became Germany’s youngest Professor of Law at the age of 29 in 1930 before the Nazi era.
    His chair was at the University of Rostock but he became Professor of Law and Dean of the faculty at Frankfurt during the Nazi era in 1941. He was not a member of the Nazi party but his promotion may have been helped by a speech he made at a regionally important university lecture evening at Rostock on 23 January 1939 with the title “Greater Germany as Legal Entity” in front of high representatives of party and state. Its subject was harmonisation and integration of the different legal systems, applying to territories under German control, including Austria and the Sudetenland – a topic he would pursue on a Europe-wide basis in his office as first President of the European Commission. He held a very high view of the Commission, writing “The Commission is entrusted with what virtually amounts to a monopoly in taking the initiative in all matters relating to the Community… As I see it, the Commission should eventually be empowered to take all measures necessary for the implementation of the Treaty on its own authority without having to rely on special and specific approval by the Council of Ministers” (from “Europe in the Making”,)

    By 1965 General De Gaulle, who believed in a “Europe des Patries”, was thoroughly fed up with him.

    “As for the Commission, it deserves to disappear. I want no more of Hallstein…I want no more to do with them…I want no more that the French government should have to do business with these types…The problem is the mafia of supranationalists, whether commissioners, deputies or bureaucrats. They are all enemies. They have been put there by our enemies”. (C’etait de Gaulle, Alain Peyrefitte, Fayard, Editions de Fallois, Tome II pp 290-291) .
    Nonetheless, the institution, established and first led by Hallstein, proved more durable and persistent than either de Gaulle or Margaret Thatcher – two of the strongest political personalities of post war Europe.

  2. Adam HileyReply

    how anyone from that great bastion of ‘democracy ‘ the European Commission can lecture an elected Politician of a Country is beyond Me that is like being called a patriot by Tony Blair

    • StevenReply

      Indeed. Welldone, Austria! It’s high time open-borders globalists didn’t have it all their own way in Europe. Perhaps, if the EU were sensible they would regard this election result as a kind of final warning that it must reform itself and become less centralised otherwise it won’t just be Great Britain that leaves the EU but others too though I do doubt whether Austria would ever leave since they are a very wealthy country where the Euro hasn’t caused much, if any, damage and they normally pretty much follow events in Germany being a German-speaking country and sharing some culture with Germany.

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