European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker compared Austria’s far-right Nazis, now in the government, with Tsipras junior coalition partner.
In a joint press conference with Austria’s new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Juncker said he will work with Austria’s new government, with its far right junior coalition partner, just as he has been cooperating with the government of Alexis Tsipras, and his own far right junior coalition partner Independent Greeks and Panos Kammenos.
Asked how he will cooperate with Austria’s far-right coalition government partner, Juncker said:
“We will cooperate with all Austrian ministers, just as I cooperate with the far-right coalition partner of Mr Tsipras, just as I have cooperated with far-right parties in Bulgaria and Slovania,” Juncker said while everybody was trying to understand what exactly he was saying due to his strong stutter.
“Why are we making a whole thing out of Austria, when we like to be partially blind when it comes to other countries?” Juncker asked, rhetorically speaking, of course.
31-year-old Kurz rushed to Brussels one day after being sworn into office to prove Austria’s pro-EU credentials after his center-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP) party joined a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).
Kurz assured the European Union of the pro-Europe stance of his government.
The EU and Commission president Juncker gave Austria’s center-right and far-right government their blessing.
“We will judge the Austrian government on its deeds,” Juncker said adding “I look at the government program and I have reasonable confidence that this will be a pro-European government,” Juncker said.
I don’t know which program Juncker saw but so far the OVP-FPO coalition has published only its coalition agreement.
Apparently Juncker was not bothered by the strong anti-migration policy that includes stripping asylum seekers of cash money, he was convinced of Austria’s pro-European stance because the two coalition partners agreed to refrain from a referendum to exit the EU.
PS If Kammenos is far-right, I wonder how Juncker would describe Golden Dawn.
Juncker once again offers evidence that he is not all that familiar with the political situation in EU countries. He compares a party with a 60-year history and 27% of the vote (FPOe) with another spin-off party with a 5-year history and less than 3% in polls (ANEL). The FPOe may not have the best and the brightest in its top ranks but there isn’t one member of those top ranks who is as embarrassing as Kammenos can be. The FPOe is a populist party of the right (until recently it also had a history of being a protest party) but it is not far-right in the sense of the French Le Pen or the German AfD (or the Greek ANEL, for that matter).
The FPOe is (and has been for some time now) Austria’s workers’ party, taking that role away from the Social Democrats (SPOe). In the last election, 59% of workers voted for the FPOe compared with 19% for the SPOe. Also, the FPOe has the largest share (30%) of voters under the age of 30 (compared with 17% for the SPOe).
When people ask me to describe the FPOe, I refer them to Donald Trump. His style is quite similar to the style which the FPOe has demonstrated in the past. However, ever since it became apparent earlier this year that they might end up in government, the FPOe has made great efforts to behave with civility. They are doing this now but no one knows how long that will/can last.