Nationalist right crumbles in Austria

Austria’s vice-chancellor and Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache was forced to resign after promising state contracts for cash.

Heinz-Christian Strache: promised contracts for cash

2018 Getty Images

A "lurid" video showing Austria's vice-chancellor and Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache "promising state contracts for cash" to a woman claiming to be a relative of a Russian oligarch has brought down the Austrian government, says Jonathan Tirone for Bloomberg. Strache was forced to resign. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also fired the interior minister, Herbert Kickl. That was a "bridge too far" for the rest of the Freedom Party (FPO), and its ministers resigned en masse. With the coalition between that party and Kurz's Austrian People's Party now over, Kurz has agreed to call fresh elections in September.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Ditching the far right may be a blessing in disguise for Kurz, however, says Valerie Hopkins in the FT. Even before the coalition was formed, the FPO earned intense criticism for signing a co-operation agreement with Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. Despite this, the FPO was given control of all three of Austria's intelligence services, prompting the agencies of other Western countries to limit their co-operation with Austria.

Kurz may now strengthen his party's position in a new election if he can win over disgruntled Freedom Party voters, says Matthew Karnitschnig for Politico. By contrast, Europe's far-right parties are likely to face "uncomfortable questions" on the eve of the European elections about their own relationships with "unsavoury Russian actors", as they have generally pursued "a similarly Russia-friendly strategy" to the FPO. At the very least, the other far-right parties are likely to try to distance themselves from the Austrians, complicating efforts to unite Europe's far-right parties into a new political alliance.




How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019

Boris Johnson’s big Brexit plan

The prime minister needs to get Brexit done, and get the economy growing – particularly for first-time Tory voters. Can he manage all that while negot…
15 Jun 2020
European stockmarkets

European assets bounce as the eurozone's economy turns upwards

Both the euro and European stocks have rallied strongly in the last few days.
12 Jun 2020
EU Economy

Margrethe Vestager: a symbol of all that’s wrong with the EU

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, wields enormous power over industry, and abuses it, says Matthew Lynn.
7 Jun 2020

Most Popular


House price crash: UK property prices are falling – so where next?

With UK property prices falling for the first time in eight years, are we about to see a house price crash? John Stepek looks at what’s behind the sli…
2 Jul 2020

The end of the bond bull market and the return of inflation

Central bank stimulus, surging post-lockdown demand and the end of the 40-year bond bull market. It all points to inflation, says John Stepek. Here’s …
30 Jun 2020

How can markets hit new record highs when the economy is in such a mess?

Despite the world being in the midst of a global pandemic, America's Nasdaq stock index just hit an all-time high. And it's not the only index on a bu…
3 Jul 2020