This week, Austrian voters took to the polls and chose between candidates from the many parties competing for a seat in Parliament. Between the three main parties, Austrians got to choose between the Social Democrats Party, a center-left coalition that focuses on more liberal economic and social policies, the People’s Party and the Freedom Party, which has known far-right and extremist elements.
Despite the Social Democrats’ recent strides in maintaining equality and justice for Austrians throughout the nation, the current results poise Sebastian Kurz, a man with alarming anti-immigrant, right-wing views, to be the next Chancellor of Austria. His election is unsettling, as it represents a shift in views among young Austrians away from the center and towards the right-wing extremes. Kurz himself is only 31 years old and is a key component in the People’s Party’s plan to reclaim the younger generations. In addition, it is expected that Kurz will allow the Freedom Party to play a role in his ministry and government, thus solidifying the far-right, racist and anti-immigrant tendencies that have started to manifest in his party.
The Freedom Party itself is poised to be the third largest party in Parliament. This shift in power away from the progressive, forward-moving Social Democrats Party towards the new extreme right is unsettling, disturbing and destructive. It also echoes the recent election in Germany, which saw the extreme-right Alternative for Germany party become the third-largest party in Parliament. This controversial party was known for its destructive and divisive campaign tactics, such as one that actively targeted Muslim women.
The recent far-right wins in Germany and Austria have solidified a new, alarming trend among young voters that shift away from progressive policies and platforms, towards xenophobic and hateful coalitions like the Freedom Party and the AfD.
Featured Image: Dragan Tatic, Flickr