Election in Austria and Politics in the EU

Mid-October, Austrian electios for the National Assembly  took place. Winner was the People’s Party (ÖVP) with the future chancellor Sebastian Kurz. The Social Democrats (SPÖ) with the present chancellor Christian Kern got second, tightly followed by the Freedom Party (FPÖ) with the chairman Christian Strache.

The Green Party dropped out of the parliament, whereas their former member Peter Pilz, who quit his party, could reach eight mandates with his own list.

Most possibly SPÖ will go into opposition – as the Social Democrats in Germany do, because there will be a coalition between ÖVP and FPÖ. Different from in 2000, when ÖVP brought the right-winged FPÖ into government, there is no massive protests or sanctions by the EU this time.  What to expect is a swing to the right extreme like in Poland or Hungary in many European countries.

The EU urges on neo-liberal globalisation which brings with it increasing tensions. After the financial crisis in 2008, the austerity regime with the so-called „dept-brake“  on public budgets impeding public investment  also led to increasing inequality. Protests and opposition to this regime was left more or less to  the right wing parties.

In Austria, such projects and reforms of the anticipated new government could be expected:

1.The designated chancellor Kurz has announced considerable tax reductions which should be financed by cuts in expenditure of social securitiy for migrants. Critics call this plans populist and doubt strongly that savings in this field could compensate for the budget losses. Cuts on education, health and social expenditure are to expect.

2.Until now socio-economic data for the population in Austria are better than in Germany. The per capita average income as well as the pension and health system are also better. It is possible that the new government will loosen or abrogate the compulsary membership with  the chambers of commerce, labour, etc..  At the same time, the system of collective bargaining which got Austria a world-wide recognition of stability, might be abondoned.

3.More plebiscital elements of direct democracy like in Switzerland could be adopted. Critics are afraid that this could be turned against the migrants.

4.The institutions of the Political Islam could be scrutinised more. Kindergardens, schools, mosc- associations  and cultural clubs of AKP-near societies like Milli Görüs or those of the Muslim Brotherhood could be controlled more on their compatibility with the constitution.

The economic, social and cultural problems of the integration of migrants are not trivial. The various causes are not tackled sufficiently be the EU. Like in some other countries, the right-wing parties could win points with this issue easily in Austria.

In Germany, chancellor  Gisela Merkel  spoke up for the opening of the borders. But it was her minister of finance Schäuble who began to stir the atmosphere aginst solidarity when he urged Greece into a merciless financial corsett.  With its relentlessly export-orientated  politics, Germany gets the southern countries into great economic problems.

One of the reasons why this is possible is that Germany  is profiting excessively from the descrepancy between different-degreed inflation and yet equal interest rates in the Euro-zone.  With the regime of austerity that Schäuble imposed on other countries, the structural deficits in the weaker economies got sharper and prolonged. Situations such as lacking public investment and services, unempoyment, stagnant or sinking real wages, precarious working conditions, rising rents, etc.  brought poverty rise in quite a lot of (21 from 28)  EU countries. With these tensions, the unity of the EU is under pressure.

The french president Macron has proposed different reforms to strenghten the cohesion  and to promote integration.  A special parliament for the Euro-zone with stronger participation and more rights should be implemented.  If this could come true is doubtable for a variety of reasons.

The FPÖ, like other right-winged parties in Europe, was until now rather EU-critical. Since Brexit and Donald Trump entered White House in the USA, the sceptical voices in the EU got fainter, which hopefully is a good sign.

At least, the new government in Austria should not miss the good opportunity for a disirable entry on the international parquet at its upcoming EU-presidency due next year.

2.Nov. 2017

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