Austria’s recent general election has implications for the West as a whole. The snap legislative election, held on September 29, was spurred by what has come to be called the “Ibiza scandal” – a scandal named after the location of a shady meeting that took place earlier in the year between Heinz-Christian Strache — Austria’s deputy chancellor and head of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) — and a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.
According to a video that surfaced in May of the clandestine meeting, the woman indicated her wish to take control of Austria’s leading daily newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, and Strache said that he could assist her through governmental contracts in exchange for the financial backing of his party.
When the video emerged, Strache resigned and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz — leader of the conservative, Christian-democratic Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) — terminated his partnership with the FPÖ, causing the coalition to dissolve and the government to fall.
Subsequently, Kurz himself was removed from office by a no-confidence motion in parliament, and new elections were called.
The election campaign that ensued was particularly dirty. The FPÖ was embroiled in internal conflict. Kurz and the ÖVP gradually shifted away from their previous willingness to adopt tough measures against mass immigration, but failed to alter the tone of their political rhetoric. The Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) lacked a cohesive position. That omission benefited the Greens, which already had the advantage of belonging to the global “climate protection” movement. The New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS) stabilized as a parliamentary factor.
Although the election results did not come as a surprise, they did produce profound changes in the parliamentary power structure. Kurz’s ÖVP won a landslide 37.5% of the vote. The FPÖ was reduced to a catastrophic 16.2%. The SPÖ fell to an all-time low of 21.2%. The Greens remained constant at 13.9%. And the NEOS came in at 8.1%.
To understand the significance of these election results, it is necessary to review recent Austrian history.
In May 2017 — two years before the Ibiza scandal — Kurz became the head of the ÖVP (the long-standing junior partner in a coalition with the only slightly stronger SPÖ), by staging a coup against, and causing the resignation of, the ÖVP’s weak leader and vice chancellor, Reinhold Mitterlehner. Kurz then skillfully orchestrated the collapse of the government, blaming the SPÖ for its abrupt end.
The resulting snap elections held in October 2017 brought a remarkable 31.5% for the ÖVP under its new chairman, Kurz. As head of the largest party, Kurz was tasked with the formation of the new government.
Kurz thus faced a dilemma: to forge a coalition with the left-wing SPÖ or with the right-wing FPÖ.
The relationship with his party’s former coalition partner, the SPÖ, had been so shattered that a remake of the partnership was out of the question. On the other hand, although the FPÖ had become much stronger in the election — indicating public favor — its reputation as a party of “xenophobic” extremists in the mainstream media and among European Union members was problematic.
Kurz evidently understood all of the above. He also recognized that the consequences of unfettered mass immigration into Austria during the two years preceding the election had caused a shift in public sentiment. In other words, by the time Austrians went to the polls in 2017, a majority had begun to demand restrictions on immigration, which they considered responsible for the deterioration of their personal security, a disintegration of their social systems and a decline in Austrian cultural norms — all due to advancing radicalization.
Having played on the fears of the public during his election campaign, Kurz decided that there was no alternative but to take the wishes of his voters seriously, and form a coalition with the FPÖ.
The negotiations between the ÖVP and the FPÖ proceeded in a constructive manner. In addition to a general commitment to a restrictive policy on asylum and immigration, the two parties agreed on a government plan that included some long-overdue reforms (as in health care and budgets).
The coalition began its work in 2018, embarking on a feel-good social campaign, with the FPÖ setting up a task force to deal with issues such as the United Nations Global Compact on Migration and same-sex marriage. The coalition partners also decided to update the Islam Law, to restore freedom of expression by eliminating penalties relating to political speech. Ironically, however, it would be these very issues that caused trouble for the coalition.
Kurz prevailed on the issue of same-sex marriage with his more right-wing coalition partners, but refused to engage in debate on freedom of expression, attempting to enact even more severe “hate speech” legislation, — introducing laws to restrict speech even further. Remember that “hate speech” has no legal definition and can be used to mean anything and everything.
The coalition agreement, which demands that both parties abide by it, called for the investigation and lifting of speech-control measures such as the one for “incitement to hatred”. The ÖVP ignored several endeavors by FPÖ to enter discussions about this provision in the agreement.
The issue on same-sex marriage was even more contentious: ÖVP, despite its conservative voter base and with the tacit support of the Catholic Church, pushed for same-sex marriage, ignoring FPÖ’s wishes for further discussions.
Kurz was also unwilling to take legal action against Islamization. The only point on which he had to concede to his FPÖ coalition partners – in order to keep them from toppling the government – was that of refusing to approve the UN migration pact that advocates the idea of “orderly migration” as a necessity which needs to be enabled and promoted.
During the early months of 2019, Kurz began to feel the increasing international ostracism of the FPÖ. To protect his own reputation at his coalition partners’ expense, he orchestrated strife within the FPÖ, forcing its party chairman and his vice chancellor, Strache (of subsequent “Ibiza scandal” infamy) repeatedly to distance himself from positions held by his fellow party members.
The Ibiza scandal surfaced at just at the right time for Kurz, whose coalition was becoming a curse rather than a blessing.
Today, Kurz is busily working towards the establishment of yet another coalition. From the way things appear at the moment, it will consist of a partnership between Kurz’s ÖVP and the Greens.
This is a far cry, politically and ideologically, from his previous coalition. The left-wing, immigration-friendly Greens are the opposite of the anti-immigration, right-wing FPÖ. The Greens also espouse an ideology that is completely different from that of Kurz himself, who heads a conservative, Christian-democratic party, which purports to support conservative and Christian values and views itself as anti-socialist.
By contrast, the Greens would be happy to replace Europe’s Judeo-Christian cultural order with a radical multiculturalism that includes an acceptance of, and presumably a possible replacement by, the laws of Islam.
Kurz may have to tread with caution before exchanging his previous political model with its polar opposite. Conservative and nationalist positions play a significant role both in the general public and within his own party.
If the Greens adopt the kind of moderate tactics and rhetoric that enable them and the ÖVP to become coalition partners, Austria could be on the path to fulfilling a globalist agenda that displaces Europe’s current Judeo-Christian one. Replacing Europe’s historical values could be the very path that Kurz and his party have claimed to oppose.