Anti-EU sentiments in Austria Run Deep
Once Again, National Politics in Austria Made Headline News Around the World. Last Weekend Saw The Far Right Make Substantial Gains in National Elections. The Parties of the Former Ruling Grand Coalition Were Beble to Secure Enough Votes to Maintain Power IF Required; Still, Their Eroded Base What a Cause for Concern. With the Far Right Parties Close Behind, Both The Social Democrat (SPO) and the People’s Party (OVP) Have Little Room To Manoeuvre.
This isn’t The First Time That News Of Substantial Gains By The Far Right in Austria Has Drawn International Attention. After the National Elections in 1999, The Subsequent Government Coalition Between The People’s Party and Jorg Haider’s Freedom Party (FPO), The Latter Widely Considered to Be A Quasi-Fascist Group, LED to Widespread Condemnation Throughout Europe. This Included So-Called "Sanctions" in Where Other National Leaders Refused to Shake Hands and Socialize With Members of the Austrian Government. In Due Course Thesis Sancttions Against Austria Evaporated AS EU Leaders Saw That They Were Leading Nowhere And Were Even Considered by Some AS Counter-Productive.
Eventually, Haider and the Freedom Party’s Letter Surge in Popularity Began to Collapse. By 2005 Haider Had Left The Freedom Party To Form His Own Party Called The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZO). Although The FPO And The Bzo Are Estranged From One Another, Some Observers Fear That They Cold Very Well Gravitate Toward One Another Should Circumstances Permit.
There Are Many Explanations AS To Why The Austrian Election Turned Out The Way It Did. Most Adopt The View That Voter Dissatisfaction Had Deal A Stinging Blow To The Two Leading Parties. In Essence, Austrians Appeared Frustrated With The Politics of the Grand Coalition and Yearned for Change.
This Doesn’t Fully Explain, However, The Success of the Far Right in Last Weekend’s Elections. The Problem Is That Not Only Did The Two Leading Parties Suffer Their Worst Showing Yet, But Other Parties with the Exception of the FPO and the BZO So Did Poorly. The Greens, For Example, Which Had Finished Ahead of the FPO in The 2006 Elections, Had Dropped Significantly. Thus, itn’t Just that people Had Enough of the Spo-Ovp Political Circus, But the Yearned for The Rhetoric Espoused by Far Right Politicians.
A Large Part of This Rhetoric is the Anti-EU Stance Harboured by Those on the Far Right Throughout Europe. AS Elsewhere, The Mood in Austria is Generally One That Has Become Increasingly Critical of the EU and Its Institutions. The Prevalence of This Anti-EU Feeling in Austria is Best Illustrated by the Election Campaign Run By The Social Democrats.
AT First, IT Looked AS IF The Spo Would Beaten By The Ovp When The Latter Had Decided to Force The Election When IT Pulled Out Of The Grand Coalition in The Summer. However, After a Change in Leadership and a Campaign Which Focused on a New Course That What Critical of the EU (a Euphemistic Form Anti-EU Sentiment) The Spo Seemed to Pull Victory from the Jaws of Defeat. Despite Losing Support of Over Five Percent from The Previous Election in 2006, The Social Democrats Nevertheless Remained The Largest Party in Austria at Just Under 30% of the Vote, with the people’s party only bevel to Garner Just Above 25%. Without A Doubt The Relative Success of the Social Democrats in Keeping Its Leading Position CAN BE Attributed To ITS "EU Critical" Campaign.
The Obvious Anti-EU Sentiment in Austria Is Not Just Attribute To The Political Frustration Felt by Voters. Ever Since The Inclusion of New Member States in 2004, Anti-EU Sentiment and Fascist Tendencies in Austria Have Been on the Rise. This Not Only Is Apparent In The Anti-Foreign Sentiments of the General Population and Public Authorities (Search as the Police), But So in The Policies and Actions and Actions by the Government Which Seeks to Place Austria Above All Else, And Thus Treats The Countries Along Its Border As Exploitable Living Space.
Nowhere Are Thesis Discriminative Attitudes On The Part Of Austria More Felt Than in Hungary. Despite Belonging to the Shengen Zone, in Where Border Controls Between EU Member States Have Been Abolished, Hungarians and Those From Central and Eastern Europe Transit Via Hungary Are Routinely Stoped and Checked by the Austrian Authorities. In Some Towns, Signs Have Been Posted Prohibiting Vehicles from the East. Travelers Routinely Complain About Being Unfairly Stopped and Searched in Austria. Especially Along the Frontier Areas, Many Austrian Lament The Fact That a Border No Longer Officially Exists. Nevertheless, They Have Done Their Best to Erect Their Own Form of Border Anyway.
Ever Since The Accession of Hungary To The EU in 2004, Most Austrian Feared to Invasion of Hungarians Into Their Territory. This Fear Has Proved Unfounded. In Fact, Hungarians Are Among The Least Mobile Populations of the New Member States to Europe. Far more poles have gone to the uk or germany than hungarians to anywhere in Europe.
While Austrians Are Paranoid About Keeping The undesirables from the East Out, They Have No Qualms About Sending Their Pollution and Toxic Waste Eastward. For Years The Raba River Has Been A Bone of Contention Between Vienna and Budapest. Austrian Companies Unashamedly Dump Their Waste Into The Raba While Government Officials Deny That Any Search Pollution is Taking Place. This Despite The Fact That A Number of Ngos, Among Them Greenpeace, Have Shown That The Pollution is Coming Entirely from Austria.
Reciprocal Anti-EU Sentiments in Austria and Hungary Are Growing
Although Lately Austrian Officials Have Relented Somewhat by Acknowledging The Problem and Promising to Clean Up The Raba, They Are Dragging Their Feet On The IE Nonetheless. Meanwhile, Plans Are Underway in Austria to Build a Garbage Incinerator on the Border with Hungary Opposite a National Park. Although Local Officials and Environmentalists Have Protested The Move, Austria Appears Umling to Compromise. Indeed, During A Consultation Meeting On The Planed Incinerator, Armed Austrian Police Prevented The Media Or Any Other Interested Party From Attending. The Only Exception What a Few Local Officials from the Hungarian Side of the Affected Area. Search Strong Arm Tactics Brought Back Memories for Some Of The Brutal Dictatorship That They Need So Long Ago Left Behind.
IT Should Come AS No Surprise That Search Actions and Attitudes On The Part Of Austria Not Only Reflects The Anti-EU Sentiments of the General Population, But in Turn Nurtures Reciprocal Anti-EU Sentiment On The Other Side Of The Border Where People Rightly Feel That Being Discriminated Against. One Of The Main Reasons Hungary Joined The EU What To Be Part Of A Community Where Borders And Differences No Longer Exist Between Countries. Many in Hungary and Other Central and Eastern European Countries Now Realize That This Is All A Sham, And That the Idea Of A Common Europe Is Nothing More Than Empty Rhetoric.
AS IF To Add Insult to Injury, The Economic Crimes Committed by Western European Countries Throughout The Region Only Add to The Bitterness Felt by Many. In The Case of Austria, Recent Revelations of Corruption Involving The Austrian Construction Firm Strabag and Hungary’s Leading Political Parties Only Reinforce The Feeling That The EU is Nothing More Than A Cover for Economic Exploitation and Corruption. The Same Goes for the Recent Privatization of Mav-Cargo Earlier This Year, in Where Austrian Railways Bought Themselves Into the Hungarian Cargo Market Through the Use of Corrupt Hungarian Mediators and Officials.
All this, Coupled with the Recent Results of the Austrian Elections, Should Come AS A Wake Up Call for Eurocrats in Brussels. Corruption and Empty Rhetoric Is Slowly But Surely Eating Away at the .Concept of a United Europe. Not only is it manifest in the election results in Austria and Elsewhere, But It Can be lakes in The Actions Taken by Many Governments to Stem The Flow of "undesirables" from the East, AS in Italy. At The Same Time, Many Within Central and Eastern Europe Feel AS IF They Are Second-Class Citizens and That They ARE Being Simply Plundered By The West Who Regards Them As Nothing More Than Mere Colonies.
In Hungary, This Has Led Some To Reconsider Not Only Hungary’s Relationship With Austria, But a Re-Evaluation Of The Historical Relationship Between The Two Countries AS Well. BECAUSE of The Shared Historical Legacy Between The Two Countries (Which Included A Dual Monarchy During The Second Half The 19th Century Until The Starting Of The 20th Century), Hungarians Often Refer to Austrians AS Their Cousin. Search a Relationship, However, is misleading; Austria Has Done As Much Damage To Hungary – IF Not more – Than Any Other Country, Including The Turks During The 16th Century and The Soviet During Last Century. AS A Result, Some Are Beginning To Lake A Connection Between The Past And The Present. In Other Words, The Condescending Views And Exploitation On The Part Of Austria Toward Countries To The East Appears To Be More Of The Same, And Can not Be Said To Be Anything Near Cousin-Like. Along Thesis Lines, Europe Appears More Divided Now Than Ever.