Catholic Populist Elected Chancellor of Austria

Control of migration central to political platform; some analysts foresee Kurz’s election will prompt an “earthquake” for the European Union

[Is Cardinal Schönborn speaking honestly or cynically “following the elections results”?]

by Stephen Wynne • ChurchMilitant • October 16, 2017

VIENNA – In a surge of populist fervor, Austrian voters ousted leftist incumbents from office Sunday and swept a young conservative and his party into power.

The center-right People’s Party (OVP) claimed the top spot in the national elections, with 31 percent of the vote. As a result, party leader Sebastian Kurz is advancing to the chancellorship of Austria. At just 31, upon assuming office Kurz will be world’s youngest national leader.

After declaring victory, Kurz vowed that it’s time for a change in Austria and thanked those for entrusting him to guide the country through the coming transformation, “Many people have placed great hopes in our movement. … It’s time to establish a new political style … I accept this responsibility with great humility.”

The victory is the culmination of a remarkable rise for the young leader. Described as a conservative Roman Catholic, Kurz’s views often align with the populist Freedom Party (FPÖ).

In 2011 at age 27, Kurz was appointed state secretary for integration, overseeing government efforts to assimilate immigrants into Austrian society. In 2013, Kurz became the country’s foreign minister.

Kurz assumed leadership of the center-right OVP in May 2017 and immediately set about revamping its platform, shifting it to the Right to align more closely with the FPÖ. He severed a long-troubled coalition with the leftist Social Democrats and transformed his party into an “Austria first” movement.

The move tapped into growing unrest among Austrians over migration.

Austria shares certain cultural, historical and religious ties with the group of Catholic central European countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic) who reject the European Union’s migrant quota scheme. But when the migrant crisis erupted in 2015, Vienna bent to the will of Brussels and Berlin and admitted waves of migrants into the country. In 2015 alone, 90,000 — the equivalent of one percent of the nation’s population — poured into Austria from the Middle East and North Africa.

Pushback was not long in coming. Kurz became a vocal critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migrant policy. Unafraid of antagonizing Berlin, he brokered the closure of the Balkan route into Europe in 2016. He also publicly endorsed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s construction of a border fence to prevent migrants from illegally entering his country.

Some analysts foresee Kurz’s election will prompt an “earthquake” for the European Union.

Already, government policy is shifting against the former open-door program.

In August, Austria announced it would send soldiers to its southern border to prevent migrants crossing into the country from Italy. On October 1, a ban on full-face veils in public entered into force.

These moves reflect growing concerns over the rise of Islam in Austrian society.

On September 11, 2016, during Mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Cdl. Christoph Schönborn hearkened back to the Christian victory over Islamic armies, owing to the intervention of the Blessed Virgin during the Battle of Vienna in 1683.

Posing an ominous question, he asked, “Will there be a third Islamic attempt to conquer Europe?”

Schönborn then warned, “Many Muslims think this and wish this and say that Europe is at its end.”

But it was not Islam Schönborn blamed. Europeans, he said, are “in danger of forfeiting our Christian heritage.”

“Europe’s Christian legacy is in danger because we Europeans have squandered it,” the cardinal said. “The opportunity for a Christian renewal of Europe lies in our hands.”

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  1. [“Ditto” concerning Vatican Radio’s report; i.e, speaking honestly or cynically “following the elections results”?]

    Radio Vatican deeply concerned about the result of the Austrian election

    From Christopher Gillibrand

    Austria has decided that the People’s Party under Sebastian Kurz has emerged as a clear victor of the elections this Sunday. In short, the government has now a mandate. This scenario also seems to suggest a coalition of the People’s Party with the liberal-populist FPÖ. It was a difficult choice for Christians in the country, whose election campaign was also marked by mutual hits beneath the belt and populism.

    Sebastian Kurz, however, could now become a source of hope for the Alpine region: this is maintained by the electoral observer and Catholic publicistm Heinz Nußbaumer. The political pressure from the right was undeniable, but now had to be conducted in quieter waters, says Nußbaumer in conversation with Vatican Radio. “Both parties – the ÖVP and the FPÖ – who have called for a stricter, the FPÖ even for a very strict migration policy, have won very strongly. The issues of security, migration, fear of Islamism were certainly the dominant motives. The second phenomenon is the deep-seated wish of the Austrians to change the basic constants of politics. ”

    According to Nußbaumer, this constellation of electoral themes, which was “massively overplayed” in the election campaign, had made the vote so complicated for Christians: “The decisive factor for me as a Christian on election day was the fact that precisely those two parties, have presented themselves as the hardest in terms of migration, dealing with refugees, and closing refugee routes.”

    The Christian faith had been a “sign of our culture and identity” but Christian content was missing. In this context, Nußbaumer points to the theologian Paul Michael Zulehner, who had already identified the precarious situation for Christians before the election: “Not a few Christians will be politically homeless this time because political action on the refugee question, these populist simplifications and the lack of a Christian inspired and attractive vision of an Austria of the future disrupts many committed believers and has brought them into a difficult emotional isolation.”

    The scaremongering of the threatened Islamization might thus have possibly decided the Austrian election, the more important is now a rethink, says the long-term head of the Austrian Presidential chancery. “We must now look to see if these two parties [ÖVP and FPÖ, Note], should they jointly form a coalition, then descend from this exposed position given governmental responsibility.”

    In any case, he expects a Chancellor such as Kurz to say that the “exclusion emotions” observed in the election campaign will now be replaced by “a more moderate and responsible attitude, but also a humanitarian and Christian understanding”, Nußbaumer is confident.

    Source: German-language Vatican Radio: Österreich: Politischer Rechtsruck ist schwierig für Christen (Austria: Political pressure is difficult for Christians)

  2. The Vatican has a warped view of Charity and Christianity. They are living in the misplaced Love and misplaced Charity since Vatican II. These are the real racists who wish to see the immigrant go to hell. They don’t believe that “Outside the Church there is no Salvation”.

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