Parliamentary elections in Austria Sunday delivered a historic victory for far-right and conservative parties, resulting in the majority of seats going to the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), led by 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz. The far-right, anti-immigration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) came in second place, its best electoral performance since 1999. The defeated Chancellor, Social Democrat Christian Kern, called the elections a “massive slide to the right” for Austria.
Across the border, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó (pictured) both applauded the victory of the ÖVP, a sister party of Hungarian ruling party Fidesz, seeing it as a victory for “Christian-conservative” politics and for Europe’s struggle against immigration.
“Yesterday’s result clearly shows that the majority of voters in Austria, too, cast their votes for values-based politics which guarantees safety and stability,” Orbán wrote in a letter to Kurz. “I am confident that following the successful formation of a government, as close allies we can strengthen the cooperation between our countries through the Christian-conservative values that you have consistently represented.”
The ÖVP must now form a coalition government, which it will likely do with the far-right FPÖ, from which it borrowed much of the hardline anti-immigration rhetoric that helped sweep it to victory. After the conclusion of coalition agreements, Kurz appears set to become the next Chancellor of Austria, which would make him the world’s youngest national leader.
Szijjártó said of Kurz – who was also foreign affairs minister in his country from 2013 until May this year – that he “always spoke clearly and was never a prisoner to political correctness or hypocrisy.” Szijjártó expressed his pleasure that a party and chancellor had won in Austria that had cooperated with Hungary on immigration and other important matters. Szijjártó said there is a need for more politicians who speak clearly and directly about the most serious problems affecting Europeans.
The election victory for right-wing parties in Austria, coupled with the historic surge of the extreme-right Alternative For Germany party in German elections three weeks ago, will be cause for concern for those who hoped the defeat of France’s National Front party and its leader Marine Le Pen in summer would mean the retreat of a rising tide of right-wing populism in Europe. In Hungary, on the other hand, the victories are music to the ears of Fidesz and its leaders.