Listen: Freedom Party, Europe And Austria discussed on The Economist: The Intelligence
"Just a few weeks ago. Things were looking rosy for Austrian politician, Heinz, Christian stock. Mr. struck has hard, right. Freedom Party had been ruling in a governing coalition and he was the country's vice chancellor and heads. The his- at a campaign event for the upcoming European elections. He spoke from a beer tent about some of his favorite themes must see fit into human, and I'm. With a beer glass in front of him. He railed against immigration saying it causes massive development failures. He said, natives or ancestral, people becoming a minority in Austria, that the country, did not want is limitation. Now his career has taken a nosedive. He was seen in video. It was a sting was filmed covertly in twenty seventeen and it's all happening beef or so. It's become known as the beef scandal. He's discussing the possibility of illegal donations from woman who claims to be the niece of a Russian oligarch Emiko Voy is a senior editor of the economist, and was recently reporting in Austria. And there was also some of the rubber dunk stuff about controlling the media in this being part of a deal in return, the state contracts in the wake of the scandal. The Austrian chancellor Sebastian coots dissolved the coalition government by calling for elections in September. The government has fallen apart effectively. It has. Collapsed because the Freedom Party was the minority party propping up the conservative party in government in Austria. So the Israeli government that is now having to go forward to hold new elections. And we'll see what happens then. So this, right. Wing party. That was propping up. The coalition government has now got itself into some very visible trouble what happens now. The interesting thing about story is that you had is very charismatic young leaders best in courts, taking over one of those traditional parties Austrian conservatives, typically, these are the kind of policies having difficulty at the moment and having these populist challenges across Europe. Would he did reach out to the Freedom Party, which is pretty hard core is much better to bring these guys into government? We can sort out things to the satisfaction of the broad centre-right and further. Right. The problem now is that has been up Salih torn asunder to presumably in the forthcoming. Elections than the Freedom Party this far right? Party will do extremely poorly, and perhaps, the, the conservative party will get an outright majority. I think it's quite difficult for conservatives to get that, right. Majority struggled for years, but was needed coalition partners, the Freedom Party. We simply don't know you would say, wouldn't you, this is one of the great pratfalls of political drama, in Europe, but let's not forget, they do have a very strong base very strong in certain parts of Austria, and also Australia, bit defiant, and often when they find that they've got a leader, whatever their political taste, the basal leader under pressure as often stood very firm. It's not absolutely clear that being hugely embarrassed once figure is gone destroys your vote Sebastian could However, I think, will not want to go back into a coalition with these guys really has had his fingers bird. And what about beyond Austria as we head into the European parliamentary elections, will this story have resonance for all of those people thinking? About other populist right-wing hard line parties. I think the kind of nuanced populism that's to in courts represents still has a lotta vote here across Europe. And don't think it's on the way, the European elections of probably getting to suggest that what does it mean it means coming up with solutions of possible solutions to immigration and asylum crises, which you, usually about keeping the people who want to come quite a long way from Europe's borders, and particularly the borders of its inner state. So it can mean trying to do deals to keep them just at the edge of the broader e you. But I think that way of taking some of the language of hatred and stripping away, leaving that to the fall reut was same time, you preach pragmatism, but you really try to clamp down on the numbers coming in. I do think that is the politics. The is gaining in salience across Europe. That election to the European parliament begins tomorrow with all twenty eight European countries. Voting over three days. In the five years since the last elections, nationalist parties like Austria's, Freedom, Party have seen their fortunes rise. But one feature of the last few years in Europe has been the growth of extreme parties on the right. And, and on the left particularly on the right. I suppose Chris Lockwood is economists Europe editor you see in Italy, the Northern League Lega becoming a much more powerful force in politics, you see in Spain, the rise of this small new, vox party in Poland shift to the conservative party of law, and Justice, and so on, and so forth. So it's to be expected in these elections that you will see a bit of a tilt in the European parliament towards the far. Right. Does that mean that the sort of overall tilt of the parliament itself will we'll be to the right? Do you think I think this has been rather exaggerated? If you take the combined forces of what you could call the nationalist right if you define those parties as being one. That are outside of the mainstream existing parties. I wouldn't expect them to gain more than forty or fifty or maybe sixty seats which is a sizable number. But remember that the European parliament is seven hundred fifty one strong. You say this rise in the sort of extreme parties, isn't quite so worrisome as, as some might think. But I mean, do you think it's election kind of takes the temperature of the, the you as a whole? Well, that's a very interesting question. I don't want to underestimate what's going on here, you are seeing forces that previously were not in mainstream politics, taking bigger rose in national parliaments, and bigger roles in the European parliament. So that does matter because it also requires the parties, particularly on the center right shifting a bit to the right in order to fend off that challenge. So, so there is an impact, and it's a response to a number of things one, the continued depression of wages and the hangover from the European Europe. Crisis of two thousand and ten to eleven and before that the worldwide credit crunch of two thousand eight hundred words the fact that Europe did receive an enormous number of migrants coming out of the Middle East, and that's led to a tremendous backlash in quite a number of countries. So these are genuine things that are genuinely happening in their, they're shifting politics to certain extent in a right with direction. So does it seem to you, then that people are kind of losing faith in the EU as an institution? No. It didn't think so actually, if you look at all the polling, it suggests that support for the EU is rather high levels. Of course, it went down during the economic crises pass those not the economies are in a fantastic state, but economic growth is returned unemployment has come down. And of course, you have the experiment of Britain Britain vertically leave the EU and has got himself into a tremendous mess ever since not able to decide quite what the mechanism for leaving would be. Be not being able to form a consensus on when and how to do it. And as a result every other country where there have been. Exit type movements of old hundred around. Maybe it isn't such a great idea. So the fascinating thing is that despite all of the problems that Europe's been through maybe even because of them because it was seemed to have just about survived them. People have come back to thinking, well, maybe this organization isn't so bad after Chris, thank you very much for your"