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Conservatives and the far right pact the new government of Austria

The populists of Heinz-Christian Strache return to the executive for the first time since 2000 and will occupy the Vicecancillería

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Conservatives and the far right pact the new government of Austria

The far right returns to power in Austria. The leader Democrat Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), who won general elections last October without majority, and leader of Freedom Party (FPÖ), Heinz-Christian Strache, have closed this Friday an agreement to form a coalition government after almost two Months of negotiation, as APA news agency and country's leading media have advanced. The Conservatives have thus broken with a decade of alliance with Social Democrats and give way to radical populists of Strache, who took part in an executive for last time between 2000 and 2006.

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Sebastian Kurz, who will become EU's youngest chancellor next week with 31 years, already pointed out during electoral campaign at end of great coalition with Social Democrats, who occupied chancellery for a decade, and did not hide his preference for a Pact with Strache ultranationalists to shape ir promise of "change" and "new style" of making politics in Austria. Both leaders agree mainly on a clear hardening of immigration regulations, in addition to proposing cuts in social aid to refugees and a reduction in taxes, a basis on which negotiations have advanced without just Transcend tensions between future partners.

Both parties have endeavoured to move an image of normalcy to repulsion of part of population — and in Europe — to new participation of far right in government. Kurz has remarked distance with stage in which his party ruled for first time with FPÖ and has assured that it will defend a "proeuropean" policy. According to Austrian media, Kurz plans to travel to Brussels to explain agreement reached with FPÖ. In addition, it will maintain control of community affairs in Chancellery, and not in Foreign Ministry, which it has directed so far and which will fall in hands of ultranationalists, in same group of Parliament that ultra-right-wing Marine Le Pen. The coalition that forged two parties in 2000 followed months of diplomatic ostracism in European Union, especially by xenophobic statements of historical leader of FPÖ, Jörg Haider (who died in traffic accident in 2008). But with rising right-wing populism and present in several community executives, today prospect of an executive with ministers of FPÖ no longer raises those waves. The taboo has been broken.

The return of FPÖ to power makes it one of most successful ultranationalist parties in Europe. Those of Strache, third force in last elections with 26% of votes (compared to 31.5% of Kurz and 26.9% of Social Democrats of Christian Kern), collect fruits of a constant growth in ballot boxes and a turn to right of Austrian electorate , marked mainly by massive entry of refugees from summer of 2015 — almost 150,000 people have called for asylum in three years in country, of 8.7 million inhabitants —.

With Strache as Vice, this new stage poses a challenge for a party that ended its passage through government between 2000 and 2006 splinter and sunk into corruption scandals that still kick. One of his former ministers sits from Monday on bench in Vienna for supposed collection of commissions million in privatization of social housing. Moreover, party, in whose genesis former Nazis participated after Second World War, have not stopped splashing cases of xenophobia and anti-Semitism in ir ranks, which catches when y become public.

Under leadership of Strache, and especially during last election campaign, FPÖ has tried to soften its anti-immigration and Islam messages, and has publicly parked idea of a referendum on Austria's permanence in EU. To lower suspicions, FPÖ has shuffled as a possible foreign minister an exdiplomatic and expert in Arab World without partisan allegiance.

The clear commitment to Europe has been at heart of talks that has held se months with leaders of two parties president of Austria, progressive Alexander Van der Bellen, who last year turned opposition to far right in a Cardinal me of his campaign for post. As Kurz has confirmed media, head of state has also insisted that ministries of Interior and justice are not in hands of same party, in a sort of replica of division of powers in executive.


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