Austria’s 32-year-old chancellor, Sebastian Kurz of the rightist People’s party, has been forced out of office by a no-confidence vote only days after his party swept the board in the EU parliamentary election.
“Mr Kurz and the People’s party emerged on Sunday evening as the biggest winners of the polls, with support surging 8.5 percentage points to its highest ever level, 35 percent, in a result widely seen as huge personal mandate for the chancellor.” (Austria’s Kurz forced to step down despite European elections win by Sam Jones, Financial Times, 27 May 2019)
The main reason the no-confidence vote passed was that the coalition government that Kurz headed was fractured as a result of incontrovertible video evidence emerging that his vice-chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, of the far right Freedom party, who had long been presenting himself as “the scourge of dirty politics” was offering government contracts in return for favours to a person posing as a representative of Russian oligarchs.
“Over seven boozy hours in a pricey villa in Ibiza, Mr Strache and another Freedom party politician are seen offering the purportedly Russian woman, who says she is looking to invest 250 million euros, lucrative government contracts in exchange for donations or politically motivated investments.
“Mr Strache tries to persuade the woman to buy discreetly into Austria’s largest tabloid, Kronen Zeitung, and use it to advance the Freedom party.” (Editorial: In Austria, a tawdry tale of the far right’s dalliance with Russia, New York Times, 21 May 2019)
This scandal forced Kurz to dissolve the coalition in an attempt to avoid contamination with Strache’s illicit behaviour. However, this left the People’s party bereft of a parliamentary majority – hence the success of the no-confidence vote.
Although the various rightist populist parties, including Austria’s Freedom party, espouse obnoxious anti-immigrant policies and are in the ultimate analysis virulently anti-working class, they are a thorn in the side of the warmongering doyens of finance capital to the extent that many of them seek friendship with Russia rather than war.
Apparently, “Foreign intelligence services have stopped sharing sensitive information with Austria for fear that it may leak to Moscow.” (Austrian leader calls for snap election after far-right vice-chancellor resigns by Katrin Bennhold and Christopher F Schuetze, New York Times, 18 May 2019)
Such is the threat to western imperialist interests that the Austrian populist government and other European parties like them represent.