What does the Austrian election mean for Europe?
Two days after the election journalists are discussing how the results in Austria fit in the context of European politics. Some believe European topics will play a decisive role in the formation of a new government in Vienna. Others fear that Austria under Chancellor Kurz will stand in the way of EU reform.
Can the FPÖ also be pro-European?
Sebastian Kurz is being put to the test on EU policy even as he forms his government, Der Standard explains:
“Not just President Van der Bellen but also EU Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker has made it clear that he wants a pro-European government. This can't be a matter of indifference for the 31-year-old, who wants to become a respected prime minister in Austria and Europe. So Kurz must convince the FPÖ to adopt a pro-European stance - as in 2000 - including withdrawal from the Le Pen faction. Either that or he tries teaming up with the SPÖ as junior partner after all. If neither of those scenarios work out then he can still form a minority government - at least until after the Austrian EU presidency in 2018.”
Pulling the brakes on "Mercron"
The shift to the right in Austria isn't going to make it any easier for Macron and Merkel to put the EU on a new footing, Jyllands-Posten believes:
“With a weakened Angela Merkel in Berlin - the CDU's defeat in Lower Saxony makes things even worse - there is hardly any chance that the new German-French EU motor will be as powerful as Macron had planned. And the new balance of power in Vienna only reinforces this trend. Austria under a Chancellor Kurz will have an open ear for Hungary and Poland, both of which are rebelling against Brussels. Apart from immigration, criticism of the EU was a main theme in the election campaign. Slowly but surely the Macron balloon is deflating.”
Vienna not suited to the Visegrád Group
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung reacts to the article Rzeczpospolita published on Monday speculating that Austria could join the Visegrád Group:
“All [Kurz] wants is to limit illegal migration. ... In the past Kurz has stressed that Austria must take in refugees and has talked of the resettlement of up to 15,000 persons per year. The ÖVP also supports European asylum quotas. ... Moreover, unlike the Visegrád states Austria is not a Nato state, it rejects nuclear energy and wants to limit free movement of persons - on the latter point in particular Vienna's position conflicts with that of the Central and Eastern European countries. Kurz and the FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache criticised the EU in the election campaign and called for less centralisation. But Kurz has always presented himself as a convinced European who grew up with the EU and doesn't want any kind of borders within the Union.”
New arbitrator between East and West
Ziare sees the election result as an opportunity for Austrian diplomacy:
“The election of Sebastian Kurz gives Austrian diplomacy the chance to act as arbitrator between the former communist states in the East and the Western European states once more. A role that was neglected by the coalition between the left and the conservatives over the last decade. The resulting tensions were not long in coming to the surface. ... No one would have thought at the start of the year that Austrian voters would give the traditional parties a second chance. The reforms and the new generation of politicians in top positions have secured them good results, to the detriment of the far right.”