Who is the real winner of the Austrian election? Perhaps not Viktor Orbán, after all

On October 16, 2017, Hungarian government propaganda papers were ecstatic. It looked almost certain that the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), led by the young Sebastian Kurz, would emerge as the strongest party after the national election. The Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) finished second, only slightly ahead of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), but most people expected Kurz to turn to Heinz-Christian Strache’s FPÖ to form a government. And indeed, four days later, coalition talks began between ÖVP and FPÖ.

The pro-government Origo exclaimed, as soon as Kurz’s victory seemed assured, that “Viktor Orbán also won in the Austrian election.” The paper quoted Russia Today, which predicted an even deeper division within the European Union with Kurz’s victory. The position of Berlin and Paris, it said, will be weakened when Austria joins the Visegrád 4 countries in opposition to open borders, which in turn will lessen the likelihood of a federalist solution in the near future.

Right-wing analysts like Ágoston Sámuel Mráz echoed Russia Today, adding that, although Austria is unlikely to join the Visegrád 4, with Kurz’s election “the Central European concept will be strengthened.” As he put it, in Austria “Sebastian Kurz was victorious, but it was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who won.”

After the announcement of the conclusion of successful coalition negotiations on December 18, there was general optimism concerning closer relations between Austria and Hungary under the leadership of a government without the socialists. Austrian pundits made all sorts of predictions about cooperation, especially on matters of immigration. Hungarian government experts emphasized with satisfaction that ÖVP, as far as the refugees are concerned, had adopted FPÖ’s more radical approach. They noted, however, most likely with some regret, that the coalition agreement contains a reference to Austria as an integral part of the European Union. 888.hu was especially happy about the large presence of FPÖ in the coalition and published an article on Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPÖ), who considers Viktor Orbán a prophet and a model for Austrian politicians to emulate.

It is not at all clear at the moment how close a relationship Sebastian Kurz wants to maintain with the Visegrád 4, especially after he warned against “overinterpreting things.” As he put it, “there are measures and initiatives where we have goodwill in western European countries … [and] there are others where we will perhaps get applause from the Visegrad countries, and still others where we agree with all other 27 EU member states.” Híradó, the official Hungarian government news outlet, put it even more bluntly when it reported that “Sebastian Kurz rejected speculation that Austria would draw closer to the V4 countries as opposed to its Western European allies.” Kurz announced that he is planning to visit Paris and Berlin in the coming weeks, stressing that Germany is Austria’s biggest neighbor and most important economic partner. In brief, it is unlikely that Viktor Orbán can rely on Kurz in his anti-Merkel moves.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache at the cabinet meeting in Seggau / Source: Der Standard

I found the comments that the new Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš, made a couple of days ago amusing. He announced that the Visegrád 4 countries must convince Brussels that the refugee quotas are senseless, and he “has a clear plan how to fight against the quotas and find new allies.” In the next few weeks he is planning to visit the Bulgarian prime minister and Jean-Claude Juncker. He is also going to Davos, where he will meet the Austrian chancellor. That is his plan. If the neophyte Czech prime minister thinks that a couple of private chats will change the solid opposition to the Polish, Czech, and Hungarian refusal to abide by EU rules, he still has much to learn.

I don’t think that Viktor Orbán ever seriously believed that Austria would be part of the Visegrád 4 any time in the future, but I suspect that he didn’t anticipate a potential source of friction between the two governments only a few days after the formation of Kurz’s government. After the first cabinet meeting, Kurz and Strache announced that the Austrian government will reduce the amount of child support for children of “guest workers” whose families remain behind. In 2016, the Austrian government paid 273 million euros for 132,000 children living outside of the country. Hungary and Slovakia received the largest amounts of money: Hungary 80 million and Slovakia 63 million.

This move is part of a broader Austrian government agenda that includes cutting taxes, reducing benefits for refugees, and restricting new immigrants’ access to many social services for five years. Or, as Péter Techet wrote in a thought-provoking article on Austria, this government wants to end the Austrian welfare state as it currently exists.

Discriminating between EU citizens is illegal according to the EU Constitution. Yet Kurz seems confident that his government won’t violate EU laws by reducing family allowances. At least this is the opinion of the party’s expert, who argued that the size of the benefit should be determined by the purchasing power of the country of the child’s residence. It is ridiculous, he said, that a Romanian family with two children receives €300, which is the equivalent of an average salary in Romania. However, it may not be as simple as the Austrian labor lawyer thinks. Jean Claude Juncker’s deputy chief spokeswoman already issued a warning that the European Commission is closely monitoring the situation, and I wouldn’t be too sanguine about Austrian success in this matter. Earlier such attempts by Germany to discriminate against so-called foreigners were squashed.

In an ironic twist, Orbán, who fights so valiantly for the rights of Hungarians in the United Kingdom, may have to turn to the hated Brussels for protection against the Austrian government he greeted with such enthusiasm.

January 8, 2018
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Member
Chancellor Kurz, the Golden Boy of his party, was its only hope, as both the functionaries and the most faithful supporters of the two traditional ruling parties (ÖVP and SPÖ) were getting old and FPÖ’s Strache had long enjoyed the position of being “the only party leader who isn’t old and ugly”. But, as some Austrian analysts have already pointed out, while Kurz had a successful plan for seizing the power in his party, he seems to have been far less well prepared to form a government; some of his minister choices might backfire, and he may have enough to do with internal affairs in the next few months. (In contrast, the power in the FPÖ has been “silently seized”, as the journalist Hans-Henning Scharsach writes, by “Burschenschafter” or traditionally very right-wing university fraternity networks, and whatever one thinks of the ideology of these people, they at least have one, they are educated people, and they seem to have a clear plan.) Kurz is good at choosing his words very carefully and giving a wise, statesman-like impression; although there are rumours about his close and confidential relationship with Orbán, he is probably too smart to commit himself to the agenda… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

Re: Kurz … ‘too smart to commit himself to the agenda of the Visegrad countries’

Perhaps its likely that he is familiar with the ghost of the late Haider and his FPO who years ago pushed the EU to the extent of bringing ‘diplomatic’ sanctions on the country because of perceived violations of citizens’ fundamental rights.

The EU though with Austria managed to troubleshoot the problem and institute Article 7.1 as a precise way of handling rights violations. It is just possible their experience has shown them that messing around with a couple of recalcitrant countries is a headache that they might not wish to have. They have their own EU fish to fry and without getting involved with the ‘bad boys’ of the EU at this point in time.

J Simon
Guest

Austria should be part of the Visegrad 4 for historical reasons.
After WWI, Austria turned her back on this hinterland and decided to join Germany on two occasions. In 1938 Ostmark became part of Germany and she is now fully integrated with her large Germanic neighbour, de facto if not de jure.
Yet as we know the four countries of Visegrad 4 and Austria constituted a political and economic entity for centuries.

Ferenc
Guest

More missing ‘for historic reasons’: an emperor, repression, selective right to vote, war, etc
I suspect the Polish to quite disagree (also) with your last statement.
But if you wanna go back, back into time, when the only people that existed were troglodytes… cave men… cave women… Neanderthal… Troglodytes.

Observer
Guest

Ferenc
Why Orbán doesn’t convince the Poles that Putin is their friend and could be an ally or at least that it is in their interest to suck up to Putin, as Orban did?

Joseph
Guest

But Orban is neither the loser, because the austrian plan it isn’t his guilt.

Observer
Guest

Orban is the biggest looser in international politics in the European league. He was brushed or screwed by all – Saudis, Gulf states, Georgians, Americans, Azeries and of course Russians.
If he’s not tall enough to see the world from Felcsut he could stand on someone’s shoulders, e.g. Màrtonyi, Jeszenszky, Pröhle instead of jumping around with the likes of Semèny and Szijjàrtò.

Member

…and now Whorban will not so long stand on the shoulders of Lazar – the guy who actually get something done in Hungary. But like Bannon, Lazar became too full of himself and a bit tired of being just a foot-rest, hence Lazar will no longer be the guy everybody must speak with first (to get in on the taking).

Zoli
Guest

LIke it or not, on immigration Austria will be much closer to V4 position. All of EU is actually a lot closer now to V4 position, with the focus on closing EU borders, not so much on taking in millions of colonists like they first wanted to do back in 2015. Will there also be differences between Austria and V4? for sure! But it is just like Kurz put it, on some things they will agree, on others not so much. Just like Orban does for Hungary, Kurz will defend the interests of Austria On migrant quotas they agree, and that is important. I also expect they will agree on many other things in the future. Even V4 do not agree with each other on everything.

Jan
Guest

Zoli, great analysis… In my memory the refugees were let in because of at that time obvious humanitarian reasons. Not because of the EU wanting to be a colony of Syria or wherever the people came from. Whatever the motives of the different people who came, the decision was right, and the EU democracies will deal with the situation.

Zoli
Guest

Humanitarian reasons? Not too many of them reached the EU directly from a conflict zone. Syria does not border the EU, neither does Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, as well as the many non-conflict countries that they came from. So where are the “humanitarian reasons”? They were not fleeing a war zone because the overwhelming majority of them crossed through several stable countries before reaching the EU. Not to mention the fact that on average they paid about $5,000 each to smugglers to get to their destination of choice, therefore most were less than desperate to say the least! The fact that most of them are healthy young men also goes against the humanitarian claim. Do you think the evidence supports that claim of yours? When we lay down the facts on the table, not so much in my view. The fact that these facts are now common knowledge and yet there are still people around making this grossly false claim says a lot about the power of ideological indoctrination in my view.

Member

The argument was ” In my memory the refugees were let in because of at that time obvious humanitarian reasons”, which was the exact situation when the German border was ‘opened’.
To have stopped those few hundred thousand at any border at that time in 2015 was not possible for pure logistical reasons.
There was hardly any border installations between Germany, Austria and Hungary, so nothing could be opened or closed.

The real reason behind the major movements in 2015 was that EU and other countries cut down contributions to the UN Refugee programme, so what should the refugee do – starve?
“Recent months have seen severe cuts to food rations for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan as well as for Somali and Sudanese refugees in Kenya. Darfuris living in camps in Chad have been warned that their rations may end completely at the end of the year. UN-run healthcare services have also been closed across a large part of Iraq, leaving millions of internally displaced people without access to healthcare.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/06/refugee-crisis-un-agencies-broke-failing

Joseph
Guest

The most “refugees” weren’t even refugees, but an outdated article from laughable Guardian won’t tell you such facts of course

Member

Joseph
The most “refugees” weren’t even refugees, but an outdated article from laughable Guardian won’t tell you such facts of course
—-
Registered people living in UN-controlled refugee camps are to be called “refugees”. If you think they are anything else, I can invite you to visit one…

The article is not ‘outdated’, it is a historic document and contains quotes from UN-official.

Sorry it does not follow your Kremlin supplied script…

Zoli
Guest
And yes, EU democracies are dealing wonderfully with the situation! Attacks on gay people are sharply up in many countries. 400% in Netherlands, the country that first recognized gay marriage. Anti-Semitic attacks are up, sexual assaults are up. A recent study has shown that in Germany, most of a double digit increase in violent crime is attributable to the 2015-2017 influx of migrants. Suppression of information is increasing, with Germany’s recent social media censorship farce, added to the four days of silence by its national media in the aftermath of 1,200 women assaulted or raped on German streets two years ago. Four recent gang rapes on the streets of Malmo, yet police will not even release a description of the culprits, because it does not want to produce “prejudice”, seemingly less concerned about the fact that withholding such information may contribute to the fact that none of the cases were solved thus far, nor much concern in regards to the fact that young women not knowing what to watch out for may produce more victims. The Rotterham grooming fiasco also comes to mind, where over a thousand young girls were victimized for years because the police did not want to… Read more »
Guest

Zoli you’re right! Sexual attacks against children are abominable!
So the first step is to ban the Catholic church and send all those rapist priests away …
Got any idea where we might send them? Maybe to Hungary where they fit in nicely?
Nice try, little fascist, but let us handle this – no refugee wants to come to Hungary anyway and most intelligent young Hungarians leave the country as fast as possible too.
PS:
Maybe trolls like zoli should be banned/sent to breitbart/kuruc whatever?

Member

Very well memorized, the propaganda, Zoli! Though it isn’t that difficult to learn that stupid things if you get it hammered in day and night by your favorite gang.

After all one question is unanswered:
Is your brain able to think own thoughts, too, or is it just made for parroting?
(Or is it your job? )

Member

“A recent study has shown that in Germany, most of a double digit increase in violent crime is attributable to the 2015-2017 influx of migrants.”

What you leave out:
1) is that this is from one (1) Bundesland and not automatically representative for Europe and Germany.

2) 80% of the victims are also immigrants, so this is very much a product of immigrants living in crowded shelters, with limited private space, freaking out on each other.

3) Most of the immigrant perps are from young guys North-Africa and the reason for that is that they will never be allowed to stay, so they know they have no chance any way and has no real reason ‘to behave’ – they just live in Germany on borrowed time until they are deported in any way.
Traditional 2015/16 immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq are not over-represented.

You know it is important not to be part of the ‘Suppression of information’ your ilk peddle in.

Jan
Guest
First of all, I didn´t claim anything. Hundreds of thousands of young hungarian people left Hungary for a lack of possibilities to built on a good future in their homeland, because of the EU they are free to move and build on a better future inside the EU. In the USA there are on the moment etimated 12.000 illegal hungarians living and working. I think we have no moral right to condemn people from elsewhwere who seek a better future for themselves in the EU. The examples you give of the “terrible situation” in the EU democracies are just common knowledge because of a free functioning press and functioning democracy. In a functioning democracy the people responsible for abuse and corruption will have to answer and will see a courtroom from the inside if the law demands that. In an illiberal democracy you can bend the law how you want. You can steel public money to enrich your cronies. You need to create “common enemies” who have a “plan” to destroy your country. If you are a leader of an illiberal democracy you need to talk with a different tongue abroad than at home. In an illiberate democracy corruption is… Read more »
Farkas
Guest

@Zoli
January 9, 2018 1:09 pm

How much of what you list in your post is factual and independently verifiable information, and how much is unverifiable fake stuff from alt-right conspiracy purveyors? After all, the easiest thing in the world is to use supposed “suppression of information” to disseminate whatever fictions might best serve your purposes. As far as I am concerned, until you supply sources, you might as well not have written your post, and if your sources are alt-right fiction factories, then your argument doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. On the other hand, if your argument does rely on factual and independently verifiable information sources, then what you are saying is most welcome and should be given serious consideration. And in that case I would advise our fellow contributors to avoid getting hysterical in their reactions to your contributions, but address the matters at hand that you raise with all the seriousness they deserve, because shooting the messenger does not make bad news disappear. On the contrary.

Guest

@Farkas:
These fake news have been distributed so often by RT, breitbart etc and debunked too that It’s kind of boring to read the same cr*p again and again …
And anyway Zoli, Joe Simon etc are not interested in discussing these things, that should be obvious from their style of commenting!

Joseph
Guest

Oh, the good old fake news assumption
But stupid, that 95 percent of articles on Breitbart and RT regarding germany are just copied from mainsteam media outlets, so you call them fake news as well…

The point is that hardcore “liberals” (better say leftists) like you are running more and more aground.

Member

Joseph
95 percent of articles on Breitbart and RT regarding germany are just copied from mainsteam media outlets
—-
So why is it so hard to post the references for your claims?
You are ashamed?

That BreitFart/etc references mainstream media is not new, what is also is not new is that BreitFart/etc twists the information to push a certain opinion that is among Kremlin talking points at time of publication.

Guest

On politics.hu we’ve given many examples of breitbart and Russia Today promulgating the same fake news – better called stupid lies!
The most famous example was the story of the German-Russian teenager in Berlin who claimed to have been kidnapped and raped by refugees – when in reality she spent the weekend on a sex orgy with her friends …
Some of these stories even made it to the debunking site snopes.com!

Member

Sorry Farkas,
I unfortunately get a little angry when I read those parroted fake information of the trolls.
And I find it exhausting to spend my time in answering to the stupid things they are uttering especially when it comes to refugees.
I only see their hatred and contempt against other humans.
And this is what I am answering to.
Maybe I should remain quiet, but this is how I am.

Member

“On migrant quotas they agree”

Nope, they do not.
Kurz just say the same thing as Tusk and Soros – that mandatory quotas does not work.
Kurz wants to have a legal way to immigrate to EU, unlike Whorban, who wants zero legal immigration.
http://time.com/5068561/sebastian-kurz-austria-chancellor-migrant-crisis/
“Resettlement programs should in turn allow those most in need of protection to find a safe and legal pathway to Europe”

When will we hear Whorban state that?

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Next example of ‘real democracy’ in Hungary, this time from… Hódmezővásárhely, recommended to watch by each and everyone who understands even a little Hungarian:
https://hirtv.hu/egyenesen/foproba-2438783

Member

Next next example:
Father of Fekete-Györ is sacked from a job, he had since 1993:
https://budapestbeacon.com/father-andras-fekete-gyordismissed-state-supervised-institution/

Member

The Hódmezővásárhely thing in english:
https://budapestbeacon.com/surveillance-cameras-appeared-street-mayoral-candidate-day-announced-candidacy/

It’s worth to have a look at Budapest Beacon. English translated interview with Andràs Inotai also very good:
https://budapestbeacon.com/andras-inotai-spiritual-genocide-taking-place/

Member

Austrians always regarded people from the old Habsburg Empire as lesser, so only an Hungarian Nationalist may claim any influence in Wien. It is rather pathetic.

Clearly the Austrians are trying some part of the pre-Brexit EU27 agreement to sway a different outcome in the UK-vote, but that was only valid IF UK had stayed in the EU. Now when this did not happen, differentited child-care is as illegal as it was 2016.

What Strache should start is a campaign to return Ödenburg to the Mothercountry, correcting that dodged plebicite 1921.
Or some Kremlin-sponsored freedom-fighters should start a Barcelona-inspired struggle for a Free Burgenland!

Member

Alter Schwede!
Must be sad for the most faithful commenter on politics, that they have closed.
Strange, that the whole history is not accessible anymore. Might have something to do with the new German law, to reduce these hate things, since their provider is in Germany and the commenting trolls were heavily breaking German laws concerning antisemitism, racism, hatred,… (yes, we learned from our Hitler, when will the Hungarians do? )
We will see how many come over here.

Guest

Welcome Viking, old friend!
Let’s just hope that the “illiberals” don’t come to pollute Eva’s blog – but I’m sure she’d ban the kind ofspeech these “contributors” on politics.hu used …

Istvan
Guest
I do not think Zoli needs to worry to much, because he is right in this sense the EU as an institution really doesn’t want the refugees either. That is why the EU is funding Libyan authorities to intercept refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean and place them in facilities where in some cases they have been sold into slavery. Currently there are about 19,000 refugees being held in Libya and the expense of the EU. The UN data for Niger, as being funded by the EU to contain refugees indicates that there were about 166,000 refugees there. President Emmanuel Macron says France will host 3,000 refugees to help the situation in Niger, but France continues to support the EU is turning itself into a fortress to stop any more asylum seekers from entering. I don’t know if any of you have seen this video http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/14/africa/libya-migrant-auctions/index.html its of refugees being sold into slavery who were intercepted with the help of EU funds. As some of you know, my country is no better than the EU on this issue. The Trump administration is planning on sending 250,000 El Salvadorans back to their country of origin where Mara Salvatrucha, more widely known… Read more »
Member

The question is how much the EU wants their own sons and daughters to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep immigrants out?
Kurz, in difference to Whorban, has already spoken about helping out militarily in North-Africa to contain people.

Maybe a new-colonial era, where North-Africa becomes ‘Associated EU Members’, in reality Buffer States, from where the strongest, not so ‘non-White’, people may be imported as ‘Gast Arbeiter’ and then returned back after their usefulness been used up?

Member

We mix up different things:
As you correctly said, the EU is trying different things, not to let refugees and economic migrants in.
But the war Orbàn is fighting, is about refugees that are already in, in Italy and Greece. These are refugees, that probably will get asylum.
Orbàn refuses solidarity with EU member states. As reason he defines his personal law, which of course the EU has to accept, in telling that those migrants could have settled elsewhere outside the EU. As usual, he defines laws to suit his own interests. But he is not in Hungary, where he himself is the law. I think the EU cannot let him ignore EU law and international law (Geneva Convention). They won’t. Merkel is determined. If SPD gets into government, they will insist, too.

tappanch
Guest

p.67 “the very first weekend that I
18 started boning up on Donald Trump, you know, I
19 found various references to him having connections
20 to Italian organized crime and later to a Russian
21 organized crime figure named Felix Sater,
22 S-A-T-E-R. ”

p. 68 “As it happens, Felix Sater was, you know,
19 connected to the same Russian crime family that was
20 at issue in the Prevezon case, which is the
21 dominant Russian crime family in Russia and has a
22 robust U.S. presence and is involved in a lot of
23 crime and criminal activity in the United States
24 and for many years was the — the leader of this
25 family was on the FBI most wanted list and lives

p.70 “1 openly in Moscow as a fugitive from U.S. law for a
2 very elaborate stock fraud.
3 Q. Who is that individual and family?
4 A. The first name is Semyon, S-E-M-Y-O-N, the
5 last name is Mogilevich, M-O-G-I-L-E-V-I-C-H. ”

https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/3/9/3974a291-ddbe-4525-9ed1-22bab43c05ae/934A3562824CACA7BB4D915E97709D2F.simpson-transcript-redacted.pdf