Austria becomes only country in the european union with far-right presence in government, as coalition sworn in

Austrias president has sworn inside a new government among muted protests from the far rights prominent role within the cabinet.

In the weekend the brand new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, from the Austrian Peoples party, struck a deal with the Freedom party, a nationalist group founded after world war ii by former people from the Nazi party and today headed by Heinz-Christian Strache.

The coalition deal makes Austria the only real european country having a far-right presence in government. At 31, Kurz may be the youngest mind of presidency on the planet.

Kurzs Peoples party won 32% from the election in Octobers elections, securing 62 seats within the 183-seat national council. The Liberty party came third with 26% from the election and 51 seats.

Protesters try to break through police barricades near the presidential palace in Vienna. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty

Police estimated that about 5,500 people attended protests in Vienna on Monday a far lower number than the tens of thousands who turned out the last time the Freedom party entered government. On 19 February 2000, 150,000 Austrians took to the streets of Vienna to protest against the incoming government.

On Monday, a heavy police presence of about 1,500 officers, helicopters and water cannon trucks blocked off the area around Hofburg Palace in the run-up to the swearing-in ceremony conducted by the Austrian president, Alexander Van der Bellen.

As marches by students, feminists and anti-fascist groups converged at the central Heldenplatz Square, people brandished placards that read Refugees welcome, Nazis out and No Nazi pigs.


How did Sebastian Kurz rise to power?


The 31-year-old turned around the fortunes of the Austrian Peoples party (VP), which had been trailing in polls before he was announced as its candidate for chancellor in June.

Kurz made his candidacy conditional on an overhaul of his partys selection processes. Although the VP has been in government continuously for 30 years and Kurz is one of the cabinets longest serving ministers, he had the chutzpah to run his campaign on a platform of change, including the slogan time for something new.

Critics argue that Kurzs rise has come at the cost of embracing a divisive agenda dictated by the nationalist right. Throughout his campaign, he consistently reminded voters of his role in closing down the Balkan route for refugees moving into Europe this past year, in addition to his drive for any “burqa ban” that arrived to pressure in October, the month from the election.

Kurzs supporters, however, have recognized him for creating a new strategy to help with the aggressive and media-savvy nationalist right. After many years of politicians in the two center parties criticising the far-right FPs rhetoric simply to then embrace its policies, Kurz was more positive, by emphasising worldwide solutions for domestic problems.

Photograph: Vladimir Simicek/AFP

Police fired a smoke grenade when some protesters attempted to interrupt via a barricade, an Agence France-Presse professional photographer stated.

Van der Bellen, who’d formerly said he’d not swear inside a government brought through the Freedom party, prefaced Mondays inauguration ceremony with simply mild words of warning.

He attracted Kurz and Strache to workout a sincere and civilised leadership and also to heed the legal rights of minorities. Our management of the weakest in society reveals what our values are actually worth, he stated.

Jesse Tusk, the Polish president from the European council, stated he anticipated welcoming Kurz in The city. I trust the Austrian government continuously play a constructive and pro-European role within the Eu, he stated.

Among the couple of critical reactions originated from the Un, whose legal rights chief stated that Austrias rightward lurch marked a dangerous development within the political existence of Europe.

I am very worried, the UNs high commissioner for human legal rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, told AFP.

The final time the liberty party joined a coalition government, in 2000, the move was met with sanctions and outrage from Israel and over the EU.

The coalition agreement agreed through the two parties vows to limit illegal immigration and accelerate deportation / removal of declined asylum seekers, but additionally emphasises the states dedication to EU membership.

This is really a coalition of two parties who wish to positively shape Europe, Kurz told Austrian TV over the past weekend.

A referendum around the issue of Austria departing the EU, formerly recommended through the Freedom party, continues to be clearly eliminated.

Sebastian Kurz and his girlfriend Susanne Thier pictured after the inauguration of the new coalition government. Photograph: Christian Bruna/EPA

Kurzs chancellory will oversee European affairs, and the foreign ministry post has been filled with an independent Middle East expert nominated by the Freedom party, Karin Kneissl.

The Freedom party will control key posts in the new government, including the interior and defence ministries. Norbert Hofer, narrowly beaten by the Green-backed Van der Bellen in the presidential election in December 2016, will manage infrastructure.

The brand new interior minister, Herbert Kickl, an old speechwriter towards the Freedom partys ex-leader Jrg Haider, may be the author of broadly criticised campaign slogans for example More courage for Viennese blood and Daham statt Islam (Home rather of Islam).

Kickls party and also the Austrian Peoples party have identified cash payments for asylum seekers among the key pull factors for illegal immigration into Austria: they intend to reduce advantages to 365 monthly, having a top-from yet another 155 integration bonus.

Critics warn that switching to non-cash benefits could considerably increase condition expenses in other locations, for example housing.

Under rules suggested through the new government, individuals trying to get asylum in Austria may also be needed to permit government bodies to gain access to their cell phones to ensure their identity and migration routes, and give cash they’ve in it to finance their welfare.

Trades unions and politicians from Austrias Social Democratic party have criticised the brand new governments dedication to relaxing limitations around working hrs. The 2 parties intend to enhance the maximum morning from ten to twelve hrs and also the maximum working week from 50 to 60 hrs.

International comparisons reveal that the greater progressive the place, the greater flexible the significant plans, states their manifesto.

While Kurzs Peoples party and also the far right have decided to expand voter participation in legislative matters, their plans don’t match up with the Swiss type of direct democracy in the manner the liberty party had initially intended.

Under their proposals, petitions using more than 100,000 signatures could be treated as legislative initiatives with guaranteed speaking amount of time in national parliament. However a decision on whether such initiatives may also result in national referendums continues to be postponed to 2022, the finish from the coming legislative period.

Even just in its curtailed form, however, the plans could soon return to bite the brand new government. A petition contacting Kurz to reinstate the smoking ban, which his government has made the decision to scrap, has collected greater than 300,000 signatures.

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