Fear of the Austrian far right; far fetched. Or is it?

From the Associated Press, to the FT to the Independent and the Times, the press is all over the rise of the far right in Austria. The real question is, should we (the rest of Europe) be concerned?

The Times notes that “The two parties that campaigned on an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union ticket have captured about 29 per cent of the vote”.

The Guardian raises the alarm with the historical and religion elements:

Heinz Christian Strache, the leader of the Freedom party …  who has been associated with neo-Nazi militants who deny the Holocaust, according to a court ruling, and who wants a new government ministry created to manage the deportation of immigrants, wound up his campaign at the weekend by calling Muslim women who wear the burqa “female ninjas”.
… He talked of east European immigrants to Vienna as “European brothers who don’t want to be Islamised”, while another of his party leaders reminisced about the days when the kiosks on Vienna’s squares sold sausage and wiener schnitzel, rather than “the kebab joints selling falafel and couscous, or whatever you call that stuff”. 

Though all of the above sounds quite significant and frightening, especially looking back at what negative effect the extreme right (and left) have had historically, we must take into account what sort of society we live in today.

First off, the reality is that if the Austrian goverment is not singing the EU tune, they can be, not thrown out, but put on a political, and more importantly financial freeze. This would not be the first time something like this came to happen… again to Austria none-the-less.

And this would end up backfiring until the people were bullied into voting for an acceptable candidate. Acceptable? Democratically speaking no… For the better of the world? Maybe… But still wrong…

Other option: Austria leaves the Union and heads for solitude, only not with the good graces of the member states like the solitude of Switzerland…. Outcome? God knows, but I don’t think (and I hope I never have to be proven wrong) that Austria’s military size pozes a threat- 81st in the world according to good ‘ol wikipedia.

Bottom line; extreme situations end up resolving themselves. The biggest problem is not the rest of Europe, but what goies on inside the country, and THAT is what the EU and all other international organisations must strive to protect if the shit hits the fan, and I say if because politicians do not tend to be as extreme as they have been historically.

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3 Responses

  1. Do not underestimate the Austrians. They have been capable to convince the world that Hitler was a German and Motzart was an Austrian. As to the European Union and other international organizations, will tollerate them In the very same way their ancenants have tollerated Hitler at his start.

  2. Let’s not mix up several things. First the BZÖ (Haider’s new party) is far less radical than the FPÖ. It’s also less anti-EU. Second the possibility for sanctions are limited (see the negative results of last sanctions against Austrian government). Finally Austria will have again a grand coleation (SPÖ, ÖVP) so nothing to worry for the European neighbours.

  3. Brusselsblogger- I absolutely agree that there is absolutely nothing to worry about; and that sanctions are indeed limited (but it won’t even get to that…)But the point that I think Adriana is that political developments are not always predictable.
    The problem is the media love for political stories that will make headlines. Radical is also a better word for extreme. Thanks 🙂

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