Sunday, May 22, 2016

In Austria, the end of an era for the traditional parties – The World

Le Monde | • Updated | By

the gold of the presidential palace in the heart of the old imperial Vienna, were not enough to brighten the atmosphere . The inauguration of the new Austrian Chancellor, Christian Kern, lasted less than twenty minutes, Tuesday, May 17 Neither the head of government, came with his wife, nor incumbent President Heinz Fischer, both Social Democrats, had room for complacency.

The first pinch-hitting Werner Faymann, carried by the shock of the first round of presidential elections on 24 April, which saw the candidates of the two parties associated with power – the social Democrats and conservatives – stumble against the candidate of the extreme right, Norbert Hofer arrived far ahead of the environmentalist Alexander Van der Bellen (Greens). No one knows if the new Chancellor, neophyte government after leaving the management of the company of Austrian railways ÖBB, survive long in the second round of voting on Sunday.

As for the one who s’ prepares to step down after almost twelve years in the presidency, he seems to fear above all to see the Freedom Party, the Liberal Party of the late Jörg Haider, grab the function. On Tuesday, the outgoing head of state has merely a veiled warning: “The Chancellor is not liable to the president; President is not obliged Chancellor “, said this figure respected, and called for relations ” balanced “ between the two functions, ” as over the last seventy years “. The message was addressed less to the new Chancellor, mute before him, that a far right party, when Norbert Hofer and the leader of the FPÖ, Heinz-Christian Strache, cultivate blur their true intentions to . to attract as many voters

One thing is certain: the situation is serious for the grand coalition now headed by Christian Kern. Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Christian conservatives (ÖVP), who shaped political life since the end of World War II in Austria, are challenged as never in favor – unless a Sunday start – a force Alternatively, rooted in the most troubled past of the country. And ready to break with their heritage. No Republican front did set up so far to ensure the victory of Alexander Van der Bellen, a university professor retired of 72 years, devoid of charisma and important links out of his training.

the majority parties mutiques

Irmgard Griss, independent candidate came third on April 24, finally declared that it would vote for him. The leader of the Austrian conservatives in Parliament in Strasbourg, Othmar Karas, also supported this figure pro-European. But political parties and their tenors, usually omnipresent in the media, are themselves stayed mutiques. Probably should they take the time to digest the humiliation, unexpected in scale.

“The Greens and the FPÖ are present in the second round with atypical candidates” Political scientist Ivan Krastev observes, to which Austria is a special case: “Central Europe has seen the reign of single parties, party-state; in Austria, it’s the end of the state to both parties. “

How did it happen? ” The phenomenon is general in Europe , relativized Guérot Ulrike, a German researcher. The center parties are overwhelmed, failing to provide clear answers to the anxieties of the electorate. The trend is in Austria, but also in France, the UK or Germany. “

The migration crisis, the general view, accelerated the movement. Immigration is one of the main concerns of voters, according to opinion polls. On the way to Germany, Austria was initially sided with Angela Merkel to accommodate migrants arriving en masse at its borders. In early October 2015, tens of thousands of Austrians were attending a concert of historical support to refugees on Heroes Square, the heart of Vienna. Brill diva Eurovision Conchita Wurst and Bayern Munich defender David Alaba (an Austrian with Filipino and Nigerian origins) participating, offering the image of a cosmopolitan country, sure of its identity and its values. The Social Democratic party wanted to tip the momentum of generosity, and the word of the Chancellor Faymann was relayed by the tabloids, creating an atmosphere conducive to openness and tolerance.

Then all changed. Rather abruptly. Gradually, as the presidential election approached, the SPÖ was concerned about bad polls its candidate. The numbers have fallen: 90 000 asylum applications filed in 2015. Proportionally, this was more than in Germany. And then there was the shock of Cologne. These mass attacks during the New Year night. Rapes, Austria too. “In a country as safe as ours, we do not usually read this stuff in the papers “ reminds MP Peter Pilz, co-founder of the Austrian Greens party.

the government is aware of the fears of the population turned to the Balkans to close the road migrant quickly. Europe was surprise. Some of its leaders have not understood the alignment suddenly Vienna on politics of neighboring Hungarian nationalist leader, Viktor Orban. Many of the Austrian voters either. Polarization is installed. Serious, profound, unprecedented. “We lost our soul by being drawn into the hype, regrets Buljubasic Mirza, whose parents are refugees from Bosnia. There is one year, the Freedom Party said he was returning migrants with planes of the army and everyone was offended. But today is the Social Democratic defense minister who holds such a speech. “

SPÖ and ÖVP related to” life in death “

In some popular districts of Vienna, which focused more people to foreign origin, the extreme right is an alternative to the procrastination of the grand coalition. “All my elderly vote FPÖ” says Beate, a Polish nurse installed in the new district of the Seestadt, out of the ground two years ago at the initiative of the Viennese authorities. For her, “there are too many foreigners, some of whom do not want to integrate, especially Muslims, who do not live like us” . Here, rents are moderate, social home ownership is widespread. Everything is new and neat.

When the building goes, everything goes, they say … The billions invested in these buildings without souls bars are the best proof of the health of a strong economy, based in the heart of the euro area, largely untouched, unlike many European countries by the crisis. Yet the district voted overwhelmingly for the extreme right, preferring the original to the copy.

“The wave of migration has mainly acted as a catalyst, because the problems of the traditional parties are deeper “, says Thomas Meyer, a political scientist at the University of Vienna. SPÖ and ÖVP are associated, he said, “to life, to death” , to the point of even their most loyal voters tired. In fact, if the rare periods when the left and right we put aside ruled with the FPÖ party, grand coalitions between the two traditional parties dominate the government since 1945. The Christian life conservative party ÖVP is represented without interruption in ministries since 1987

This “anomaly” democratic wears politicians, cutting realities, prohibited the renewal and questioned. – although the obvious political talent of young current Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, given as the next leader of his political family, can still conceal a time the desertion of the militant bases. At only 29 years, he is a member of the government since 2011.

The blockages are many hatreds and frustrations between the two sides, fairly shared. The left accuses the Conservatives of being responsible for rising inequality by denying the introduction of inheritance tax and a wealth tax. Right, she wants to socialists have allowed the survival of an omnipotent unionism, blocking the most liberal reforms, while unemployment increases.

In a country where having his card a party inevitably divided the villages between the camp of “red” social Democrats and the “black” Christian conservatives, even activists admit their weariness, facing a social organization that has no meaning. Prior to a career, you had to belong to one of these “families”. Allegiance. There were banks of the left and those on the right. Friendly businesses. Everyone knew who voted what.

Now, even in the close associations of the Diocese of Vienna, preservatives encartés are gradually replaced by the voters of the Greens. At the heart of the myriad of dependent structures of the Social Democrats, speech is free. We no longer necessarily normal to vote as one to “red”, without too (is) asking questions. The FPÖ are gaining ground.

With the erosion of power, began to blame the two traditional parties cling at all costs to keep the benefits, jobs, more than to reform country. And the ball of “excluded” has swelled the ranks of the extreme right, now better able to provide money orders, housing or other small privileges.

Now, for the Greens MP Peter Pilz, the heart FPÖ electorate “is only between 7 and 8% of registered” . The overwhelming majority of the voters of the extreme right would be drained to the nationalist nets for lack of choice. He said it would remain possible to enthuse the crowds disillusioned by a new project, which would be an alternative to the SPÖ and the ÖVP, a Project “constructive” . For now, himself admits not to have found the magic formula.

So what will Austria? With the local system to proportional representation, making alliances necessary to govern, Heinz-Christian Strache has every chance of becoming the next chancellor after the planned parliamentary elections, at the latest, in 2018. According to Mirza Buljubasic, an activist Socialist youth, the encartés SPÖ recently interviewed internally would be 44% to reject the prospect of a marriage between the left and the extreme right, but … 39% approve!

Divisions on an alliance with the FPÖ

the list of personalities left calling for a rapprochement with the nationalists continues to grow. There was the Social Democratic governor of Burgenland, Hans Niessl, already long campaigned for a SPÖ-FPÖ marriage. In his region, he made the move in 2015. It was recently joined by Michael Ritsch, the number one party to the other end of the country, in Vorarlberg. Then there was Erich Foglar, President of the Inter ÖGB, close to the SPÖ and influential, who asked the Social Democratic Party to do “not immediately rule out the possibility of a joint work government with the Freedom Party. ” But for now, Christian Kern pushes the debate.

On the other side, a source close to Christian conservatives ensures that the majority of party cadres ÖVP wants to “a cordon sanitaire “ at the federal level, although the Upper Austrian region is governed in coalition with the extreme right. civil society side, Norbert Hofer supports are thinner. Apart from the extreme sportsman Felix Baumgartner and a very marginal bishop of Salzburg, few personalities to assert vote for him.

The time is therefore still save the grand coalition, to avoid early elections? “I am confident that the people voted for Norbert Hofer to protest the first round, but they do not want as president. The vote in the second round will be different, “ Peter Jankowitsch trusts, a former Social Democratic foreign minister. If it is correct, and that Austria saw a start of the second round comparable with last regional in France, Christian Kern benefit from a respite. But for how long?


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