Austria’s Freedom Party to lead interior, defence and foreign ministry

  • Tomáš Hošek
  • 18.12.2017 12:31

Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), introduced a new coalition government on Saturday 16 December, which he has agreed to form with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). The right-wing populists led by Heinz-Christian Strache will thus take control of several key departments, namely the Interior, Defence, and Foreign Ministries.

Nominated interior minister Herbert Kickl is seen as a political old hand within the FPÖ, e.g. having written speeches for the controversial former party chief Jörg Haider in the past. Mario Kunasek, nominated as a defence minister, is also considered a hardliner and even has a history of publishing in Die Aula, a magazine linked to the extreme right. On the other hand, Karin Kneissl, future foreign minister and expert on the Middle East and international law, stands outside the FPÖ structures. Nonetheless, the government is intended to be pro-European, meaning the FPÖ withdrew its programme requirement of a referendum on remaining in the EU and agreed to an extension of the EU's sanctions against Russia despite its pro-Russian stance. Both parties furthermore agreed on a tougher stand on migration issues – besides lowering the social benefits for immigrants, the new government is expected to refuse the EU refugee quota scheme, in line with the V4 countries.

About author: Tomáš Hošek

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