The new Austrian government will be watched vigilantly by its European neighbors as it includes the far-right Freedom Party, and because Austria will become the first Western European nation to implement a right-wing immigration policy.
The conservative party (OVP) of Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz (pictured with his spouse) and the far right freedom party (FPO) have unveiled their programme for government. The 180-page coalition agreement sets the tone for similarly draconian policies in other European Union member states and the wider Western world.
Mr Kurz, at 31 years old the youngest European prime minister, stated that: "Our migration policy should be such that the population would be able to support it."
In the opinion of his party and that of the far right, this means rewriting migration legislation from scratch to draw a clear line between immigration and asylum. The former is supposed to be merit-based, in line with Austria's labor market needs. Asylum rights are inscribed in international law, but the Freedom Party wants to ensure Austria's policy is designed to prevent abuses.
The agreement, furthermore, states there will be the introduction of a specific policy to cut the basic level of support payments for asylum seekers. The reduction can be recouped by families by earning an “integration bonus” if they are deemed to be adopting Austrian culture, as defined by the government.
It also calls for faster deportations of asylum seekers and says undocumented immigration will be halted, as well as vowing to stop the creation of “parallel societies.”
In other words, sanctions will be imposed on refugees that don’t integrate, whilst those that support Austrian culture will be rewarded apparently.
Though the left-wing European press will vilify it, we are quite sure many powerful political parties in other Western European nations will be looking with interest to see how this plays out.
Though there were some small protests against the coupling of the conservative and right-wing parties when Mr Kurz announced his new government, it is widely accepted that the majority of Austrians agree with him.