There is a cold wind blowing in Europe. Since Brit exit nationalism and nativism is taking hold. The results of the Austrian election held Sunday underscores the rejections of different cultures, rejection of the EU, rejection of immigrants and a feeling that if countries emphasize their own best interests their citizens will be better off. Austrians are saying that rather than reducing boundaries and uniting they are better off out of the European Union.
The election of Sebastian Kurz, a 31 year old, as the new leader of Austria will occur because he will form a coalition government with the far right Freedom Party. The Freedom Party appears to have 28 percent of the vote. Kurz’s Peoples’ Party appears to have 30 percent of the vote. The present ruling party received 25 percent, which represents the worse showing for the party since the end of Hitler’s rule in Austria.
The Freedom party was founded by Nazi’s, rejects the EU, rejects Immigrants, wants lower social benefits for immigrants and wants to remove sanctions from Russia (for the invasion of Ukraine). This election is a problem of huge proportions for the EU. If Austria leaves the EU it will be a near fatal blow.
The goal of the European Union is stated to be to establish “common economic, foreign, security, and justice polices.” When Britain withdrew from the European Union the message was that the future of Britain was better as an independent country than as part of a United Europe. It appears that the Austrians are now following the same logic. The worry is that these politicians are setting up a situation in which European nations are no longer working as equals who share common standards, but instead as self centered nations whose interactions could result in confrontation instead of cooperation. While no one can predict with certainty, a break up of the EU, it is clear that the breaking up of the EU will add to an increase in world tensions with unintended serious consequences.