Austria goes turquoise-green

The way has been cleared for Austria's first conservative-green government. The Greens' Federal Congress voted on Saturday in favour of the coalition with the conservative ÖVP by a clear majority. Have The Greens made too many compromises to attain their first participation in government?

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Mediapart (FR) /

Greens saving neo-liberalism, not the planet

Mediapart rakes the Austrian Greens over the coals for their decision:

“By accepting the neoliberal and identity-oriented politics of the right in exchange for what looks on paper like an ambitious environmental policy, The Greens have failed to combine environmental protection with the interests of the middle class. ... They agree to remain silent on migration and admit that the real priority isn't the environment but economic competition. ... What Austria is showing Europe is certainly not a way to escape the impasse of neoliberalism but rather how the latter can preserve its hegemony by donning the cloak of both fascism and environmental protection. Instead of rescuing the planet, the Austrian Greens seem to be aiming to rescue neoliberalism.”

Denník N (SK) /

The only chance against extremism

The radical shift in Austria is representative of a more widespread trend, writes Dennik N:

“More coalitions that at first glance seem impossible will be created simply because they are the only way to form governments without extremists. Today the main goal really is to secure democracy and the rule of law. Their gradual erosion as a result of allowing extremists to participate in government must be prevented.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

A model - above all for Germany

If the coalition in Vienna is successful there will be many winners, Corriere della Sera predicts:

“Not just Kurz, who would prove that he is a master of tactics and at the same time understands the mood of the people. And not just Kogler, who would have made The Greens a responsible and stabilising force on the Austrian scene. But also European politics as a whole, which would have a model for the future in Vienna. The first country to benefit from this experiment will be Germany, where the alliance between the CDU and the Greens is an almost obligatory scenario for the new era that will begin with the departure of Angela Merkel.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Partners willing to make concessions

The coalition between the ÖVP and the Greens could also be a model for the eternally divided Belgium, De Standaard notes, praising the parties for setting aside their ideological differences:

“In a stable and predictable political context that allows like-minded forces to form a majority, it's easier for parties to stick to their positions. But when the landscape changes and voters start looking for something new, clingning to old habits is counterproductive. ... The Austrian method could also be useful here in Belgium. If parties with opposing programmes are willing to suspend some of their projects, they can get to work seeking to implement the rest. They just need to be willing to make concessions where it counts.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Model character yet to be proven

The Austrian model is only to a very limited degree suitable for application in other EU states, writes Deutschlandfunk:

“For in Austria the conservatives have the versatile Sebastian Kurz as their party leader, who is able to translate the moods and trends of the majority population into votes, and has a high degree of flexibility in forging new coalitions. Plus: Austria's Greens have been re-elected to parliament only after a political slump and are now, for the first time in their history, in a position of responsibility as a member of the government.”

Luzerner Zeitung (CH) /

Kurz is doomed to succeed

Austria's chancellor will do his best to make this coalition a success - if only in his own interest, the Luzerner Zeitung believes:

“So far the old and new chancellor Sebastian Kurz has made a name for himself as a power tactician. Now he must show that he can also be a responsible statesman. He has more to lose than his green partner Werner Kogler. Kurz has already torpedoed two governments: the one with the Social Democrats, which paved his way to the chancellorship, and the one last May with the right-wing FPÖ, whose penchant for abusing power left him no other choice. If the alliance with The Greens also fails, his career as chancellor would be at stake.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Vienna doing what Berlin doesn't dare to

For Die Welt the coalition is a promising project:

“Unlike here in Germany, where two staggering election losers are clinging to each other like drowning men in the grand coalition for fear of losing their own clout, in Austria the conservatives and the Greens are embarking on a progressive project. They are testing whether an alliance that corresponds to the political zeitgeist is actually capable of governing. Is it possible to combine a sustainable environmental and climate protection policy with an industrial policy approach aimed at competitiveness? Can migration policy be humanitarian without putting internal security at risk? In any case, no one has looked to Berlin for answers to these questions for some time now. But Vienna could now provide the answers.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A daring partnership

Chancellor Kurz and his new government won't have an easy time, predicts Der Standard:

“They may not argue much, but they must keep their very different electorates in line. Because if the poll results of the two coalition partners rapidly deteriorate the mood in the coalition as a whole will suffer. And once the initial euphoria has dissipated their voters will have a lot to moan about, because Kurz is a hate figure for the typical Green voter and the Greens are hated by many ÖVP supporters. This is especially true for those voters that Kurz recently lured away from the FPÖ: they will be particularly vulnerable to gloating blue siren calls. The biggest challenge for Kurz and [leader of the Greens] Kogler will be to placate this resentment.”

Český rozhlas (CZ) /

A model that could be worth copying

Other countries will also keep a close eye on what happens with the new alliance, Český rozhlas suspects:

“Sebastian Kurz, who will soon return as chancellor, has launched a political experiment. Other European countries such as Germany will observe how it works from a distance. If it succeeds, it could become a model for cooperation between two moderate parties from what until now were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. ... The result of their joint governance need not be an incomprehensible policy that quickly upsets voters. It could well be a varied agenda that brings the necessary recovery and boosts the citizens' confidence.”