The Financial Times wonders if Austria’s Sebastian Kurz is the savior of Europe’s center-right or an enabler of the far right.
His supporters, including the liberal-minded former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, see the Austrian as the antidote to Orbanism:
He talks about an open world, internationalism and is pro-European. But he is pragmatic about solving issues. And one of the big issues is immigration.
Critics argue that by taking a hard line on immigration, Kurz is legitimizing the far right. “You don’t fight fire with kerosene,” according to former chancellor and former Social Democratic Party leader Christian Kern. Read more “Kurzism Doesn’t Travel Well”
For the first time in sixteen years, Republican congressman Steve King of Iowa seems vulnerable. The polling gurus at FiveThirtyEight still give him a five-in-six chance of winning reelection, but one recent survey had King tied with his Democratic challenger.
I don’t think it’s unfair to call King a white supremacist. He speaks about the superiority of Western civilization, argues that certain races work harder than others and worries that white women are not having enough babies to preserve the dominant culture of the United States.
An Americans sanctions bill that explicitly mentions the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has set off alarm bells in Berlin and Vienna.
In a panicky joint statement, the foreign ministers of Germany and Austria urge the United States not to impose “illegal extraterritorial sanctions” on the European companies that are building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
Sigmar Gabriel, a social democrat, and Sebastian Kurz, a conservative, warn that such penalties could affect transatlantic relations in a “new and very negative way” and “diminish the effectiveness of our stance on the conflict in Ukraine.”
On the eve of a leaders summit in Brussels, NATO has found a way to salvage its partnership program with 41 nations in Europe and the Middle East which Turkey had threatened to suspend.
A last-minute compromise sees Austria withdrawing from NATO peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Turkey holding back from severing ties with other non-allied partner states.
The Turks were outraged when Austria called on the EU to end accession talks in the wake of last year’s failed military coup against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. His government has since purged tens of thousands of soldiers and civil servants on the pretext of disloyalty. Erdoğan has given himself broad powers and imprisoned opposition leaders. Read more “NATO Throws Austria Under the Bus to Appease Turks”
Die Presse, Austria’s center-right newspaper, reports that many of the cleavages of what the Atlantic Sentinel calls Europe’s blue-red culture war appeared in the Alpine nation’s presidential election on Sunday.
Norbert Hofer, the nationalist Freedom Party candidate, was more popular with men and workers without a college education. Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green party leader who rallied the Austrian mainstream behind his candidacy, received more votes from women and college graduates.
Similar divides came to light in the American presidential election last month, although there the outcome was reversed: Donald Trump, Norbert’s Republican counterpart, defeated Hillary Clinton, a center-left pragmatists not unlike Van der Bellen.
Alexander Van der Bellen told a news conference on Sunday night he will be an “openminded, liberal-minded and above all a pro-European president” of Austria, adding that his triumph over the Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer sent a “message to the capitals of the EU that one can win elections with high European positions.”
Clearly — but this is no time for those of us who are openminded, liberal-minded and pro-European to get complacent.
Van der Bellen nearly lost the first time around, in May, when the result of the election was invalidated because absentee votes had been counted too early.