31 year-old Conservative politician Kurz set to become the world’s youngest leader
Just two weeks after the right-wing AfD Party’s surge in the German election, Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) is set to join the country’s next coalition government. The Freedom Party, Europe’s oldest surviving right-wing party, which ran on an anti-Islamization and anti-mass migration platform received 26 percent of the votes, party’s strongest performance in twenty years.
Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old leader of the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP), is expected become the next Austrian Chancellor and the world’s youngest leader. With 31 percent, the People’s Party won the highest percentage of votes and is expected invite the Freedom Party to join the government.
Despite the predictability of right-wing party’s success, the Liberal media suffered a meltdown seeing one of their favorite European country shift rightwards.
The Washington Post summed up the mood, writing, “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.”
Germany’s left-wing satirical magazine Titanic published the image of Conservative ‘Chancellor-elect’ with the caption: “Kill the baby Hitler!”
German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle slammed the right-wing party’s favorable outlook towards Russian President Putin with the German headline: “‘Putin’s friends’ in Austria’s right-wing FPÖ achieve strong election result.”
In a long overdue yet bold move, the Freedom Party made mass migration and Islamization the front and center of its electoral campaign. We should “quickly put an end to this policy of Islamization,” demanded the leader of the party, Heinz-Christian Strache, “Otherwise we Austrians, we Europeans will come to an abrupt end.”
“Another Far-right party has won voters’ hearts in Europe with anti-Islam message,” cried Newsweek in an all-caps headline. “The Freedom Party is strongly anti-Islam. (…) In the European parliament the party is aligned with fellow anti-Islam parties the National Front in France and the Alternative for Germany, which also made significant gains in the recent German elections,” the US magazine added.
“Austria’s leading election candidates target Muslims to score points,” the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle had complained just days ahead of the polls. “Austria’s federal elections are close to the finish line and the topics of immigration, Islamization, refugees and border security have been the focus of the campaign like never before.”
Media coverage in Austria was much more sober. Austria’s leading daily Kronen Zeitung ran the cover story: “Kurz Triumphs”, announcing the victory of the Conservative party’s leader. Country’s leading news website Heute published the headline: “Kern open for talks with (Freedom Party’s) Strache.”
The UK Business daily Financial Times saw the election outcome as a “significant boost for Europe’s nationalist and anti-establishment movements.” Talking about the formation of the coalition government, the newspaper commented:
Its strong showing means the Freedom party could demand a high price to join a coalition led by Mr Kurz. That would almost certainly result in a more aggressive position from Vienna on many EU topics, including immigration, and the Freedom party occupying top government posts such as the foreign and interior ministries.
Freedom Party’s electoral success is not only a shot in the arm for the resurging Nationalist movements across Europe, but also an open challenge to the EU and European political establishment. With the anti-EU and anti-Islamization FPÖ setting Austria’s agenda, Chancellor Merkel will be losing another key ally in Europe. “FPÖ chief Strache wants to see Austria become part of the anti-immigration [East European] Visegrad countries,” remarked the German newspaper Frankurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Austria could throw a wrench in Merkel’s open borders and pro-EU agenda by siding with Hungary, Poland and other East European countries that harbor robust nationalist sentiment.
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