The PJ Tatler

Clueless Austrian Government Can't Understand Looming Electoral Repudiation

Seriously, they think voter unhappiness in Vienna and elsewhere calls for “structural economic reform.”

Tensions within Austria’s government, stoked by the refugee crisis, burst into the open on Thursday as the head of the conservative People’s Party threatened to scupper the ruling coalition after less than two years in office. [Deputy Chancellor Reinhold] Mitterlehner’s People’s Party (ÖVP) is junior partner to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPÖ) of Chancellor Werner Faymann in an unloved “grand coalition” which is due to remain in office until 2018.

Last weekend however, both parties suffered disastrous losses in local elections in Upper Austria where the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) finished second after its share of the vote soared 15 percentage points. On October 11, elections are scheduled to take place in the city state of Vienna that could produce a political earthquake. Polls put the FPÖ only a few points shy of the SPÖ, which has governed the Austrian capital uninterrupted since 1945.

Speaking to the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten daily, Mitterlehner said the government’s answer to the crisis should be to finally get to grips with deep structural reforms to boost the economy.

Cue the elephant in the room:

Last month, almost 170,000 people entered Austria, most of whom travelled onwards to Germany and beyond, but the Alpine country still expects a record 80,000 asylum requests this year.

But Mitterlehner also said Austria had to “sharpen” its immigration policy: “Refugees who need protection should get it. But the state’s sovereignty to decide who immigrates should remain in place.”

Austria is on the front lines now because Hungary (where I am at the moment) has decided simply to load the “migrants” onto trains and buses and ship them directly to Austria. Look for the Austrians to increasingly do the same to the Germans who, after all and as usual, started this whole mess.