Key Austrian ministries in the hands of the far-right

Austria has a new government and one of our worst fears came true. The police, the army and the secret services are now in the hands of one party, namely the far-right FPÖ.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Key Austrian ministries in the
hands of the far-right - NewsMavens
Heinz-Christian Strache. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Today, President Alexander Van der Bellen will appoint the new government formed by election winner, the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). The president is far from happy about the coalition, often referred to as “turquoise-blue” in the media -- a name derived from the traditional colors of the parties.

Despite Van der Bellen's numerous protests, FPÖ will receive two key security departments -- the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry for National Defense and Sport. Consequently, the military, the police, the foreign secret services and the domestic intelligence will all be in the hands of FPÖ ministers.

Heinz-Christian Strache and his party thus gain a monopoly on security organs and the surveillance apparatus, which is downright scary.  

"The idea that all armed forces and intelligence agencies are from now on in one hand is unbearable. It makes the abuse of power an imminent perspective," constitutional expert, Heinz Mayer, told Der Standard.

Der Standard editor, Michael Völker, wrote in a commentary:

"This will allow for a very restrictive course against refugees, but that is just one of the problems.

It is frightening that all national intelligence, which is subordinate to the defense and interior offices, will be controlled by the Freedom Party, especially since FPÖ has never been sensitive when it comes to handling data -- quite the opposite in fact."

The party that will control the country’s security has recurrent contacts with neo-Nazis. The new Minister of Defense, Mario Kunasek, is alleged to have interacted with far-right circles such as the Identitarian Movement of Austria (IBÖ), a nationalist and new right organization, which opposes liberalism and multiculturalism, while advocating for white separatism.

The future head of the Ministry of the Interior, Herbert Kickl, is the mastermind of the FPÖ. With his racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic election campaign slogans, he regularly causes a stir.

All in all, this is an extremely problematic development.

Details from the story:

  • Today, the new Austrian government will be officially appointed.
  • The Federal President, Alexander Van der Bellen, could not prevent the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) from receiving the interior and defense ministries. This means that police, army, secret services and foreign intelligence will be controlled by far-right FPÖ ministers.
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