Stratfor sees shifts to right in Austria and the Czech Republic

Summary: Europe’s turn to the right continues. Voters in Poland and Germany, now Austria and the Czech Republic, have broken the coalitions that have ruled for generations. Frustrations accumulated, then rising immigration sparked an electoral rebellion. See these Stratfor reports about this week’s elections. They expect mostly business-as-usual results. I’ll bet this is just the beginning. I doubt we can see the end.

Politics before and after this weeks’ elections in Austria and the Czech Republic.

Before and after earthquake in Italy on 30 October 2016
Earthquake in Italy on 30 October 2016. Google Earth and Reuters.

“Austria: After Elections, Euroskeptic Parties Gain a Foothold in Government”
by Stratfor, 16 October 2017. Visuals added.

As expected, Austria’s general elections revealed the popularity of Euroskeptic parties in the country. The center-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP) won parliamentary elections on Oct. 15 with 31% of the vote, according to projections on Oct. 16. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPO) and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) are neck and neck for the second place, at 26.9% and 26% respectively. (Almost 900,000 postal ballots remain uncounted.) The OVP will soon have to start negotiations to form a coalition government with another party. …

Coalition-building in Austria, however, has often required lengthy negotiations. After the last election in 2013, it took 78 days to form a government. In 1999, it took 124 days.

 

Action of Dissatisfied Citizens logo

Kurz may hold talks with the FPO, but he hasn’t ruled out talking with the SPO. Before the elections, the OVP and SPO denied the possibility of returning to their traditional alliance, after their centrist coalition resulted in increased support for far-right parties. Moreover, both the OVP and the FPO shared a common electoral platform that focused on anti-immigration policy, while the SPO focused on economic issues and unemployment.

Yet the FPO’s success in Austria is not unprecedented. Several Euroskeptic parties, after all, have entered the political landscape across the Continent in recent years. Weary of European integration and resistant to EU attempts to centralize power, many parties such as Alternative for Germany and the Northern League in Italy have become powerful political forces in their countries. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party and Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party have even adopted Euroskeptic positions while in government.

The results of Austrian elections confirm the strength of nationalism in the country. If it enters the next government, the FPO is likely to call for less European integration, and to side with nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary. Still, Austria won’t do anything that would jeopardize its membership in the European Union or eurozone.

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Action of Dissatisfied Citizens

“Czech Republic: Parliamentary Elections Put Populist Party in the Driver’s Seat”
by Stratfor, 16 October 2017. Visuals added.

During its campaign, the Czech Republic’s Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) party vowed to cut taxes, increase public spending and curb immigration, while it criticized the country’s traditional political parties. That anti-establishment platform, it appears, resonated strongly with voters during the Czech Republic’s Oct. 20-21 parliamentary elections. With 29.65% of the vote, ANO beat its contenders by a wide margin and earned 78 of the 200 seats in parliament. And though no party came close to matching ANO’s success, the Czech Republic’s center-right and center-left parties fared particularly poorly compared to those representing the far right and the far left.

 Andrej Babis

Now ANO, which is led by Czech businessman Andrej Babis, will have to work on building a coalition. With nine parties earning entry after the vote, the Czech parliament will be fragmented as the winning party strives to gather enough allies to form a functioning government. The populist ANO campaigned strongly against traditional political structures and elitism, making it a potential partner for either far-right or far-left parties, especially since every center-right party in parliament — the Civic Democratic Party, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents party — has already vowed not to form a coalition with ANO. Meanwhile, the center-left Social Democratic Party and the centrist Christian and Democratic Union have said that they would consider aligning with ANO, but only if Babis is not made a member of the Cabinet. (Czech President Milos Zeman said on Oct. 23 that he would name Babis as prime minister.)

The European media has been judgmental of ANO and Babis’ leadership in the past, accusing the party of being run like a business and Babis of being its CEO. But though the ANO was firm in its criticism of the European Union and the eurozone during the campaign season, the party isn’t inherently Euroskeptic, and many Czechs see Babis as a pragmatic politician. Now that the elections are over, ANO will probably soften its position on the European Union, though it will continue to oppose the bloc’s common migration policy.

In recent years, the Czech Republic has aimed to strike a balance in its cooperation with fellow Visegrad Group members Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, and its connections with Western Europe. In the wake of the elections, that effort will continue. The Czech Republic has strong trade ties with Germany and is interested in remaining in the EU single market. The country, however, is critical of measures that would weaken its national sovereignty, such as abandoning its currency to join the eurozone. As the European Union discusses its next steps for continental integration, the Czech Republic, along with several other Central and Eastern European countries, will find it difficult to maintain this balance.

Austria: After Elections, Euroskeptic Parties Gain a Foothold in Government
and “Czech Republic: Parliamentary Elections Put Populist Party in the Driver’s Seat
are republished with permission of Stratfor.

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For More Information

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about fascism,  about immigration, and especially these…

  1. Europe’s elites use immigration to reshape it.
  2. Stratfor: How immigration will change German politics, which will change Europe.
  3. Stratfor: The Refugee Crisis Redefines German Politics. It could get ugly.
  4. Important: Sociologist Wolfgang Streeck explains the politics of the migrant crisis reshaping Europe.
  5. The Gatestone Institute tells us the hidden dark stories about immigrants in Europe.
  6. Stratfor: The Refugee Crisis Redefines German Politics. It could get ugly.
  7. Germany’s leaders explain what happened and what’s next.

Useful reading to understand the effects of immigration.

We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative
Available at Amazon.

See We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrativeby George J. Borjas (Professor of Economics at Harvard). From the publisher…

“To many modern economists, immigrants are a trove of much-needed workers who can fill predetermined slots along the proverbial assembly line. But this view of immigration’s impact is overly simplified, explains George J. Borjas, a Cuban-American, Harvard labor economist. Immigrants are more than just workers ― they’re people who have lives outside of the factory gates and who may or may not fit the ideal of the country to which they’ve come to live and work. Like the rest of us, they’re protected by social insurance programs, and the choices they make are affected by their social environments.

“In We Wanted Workers, Borjas pulls back the curtain of political bluster to show that, in the grand scheme, immigration has not affected the average American all that much. But it has created winners and losers. The losers tend to be nonmigrant workers who compete for the same jobs as immigrants. And somebody’s lower wage is somebody else’s higher profit, so those who employ immigrants benefit handsomely. In the end, immigration is mainly just another government redistribution program.

“’I am an immigrant,’ writes Borjas, ‘and yet I do not buy into the notion that immigration is universally beneficial. …But I still feel that it is a good thing to give some of the poor and huddled masses, people who face so many hardships, a chance to experience the incredible opportunities that our exceptional country has to offer.’ Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, We Wanted Workers is essential reading for anyone interested in the issue of immigration in America today.”

26 thoughts on “Stratfor sees shifts to right in Austria and the Czech Republic

  1. From an electoral perspective I wonder what will become of these parties. The Finns Party in Finland (of course) seemed to start having trouble once they got involved with power. They will inevitably have to compromise – there will be delays in their programs…

    1. SF,

      Stratfor says that the new right-wing political actors will be assimilated by existing elites (who are like the Borg).

      My guess is that we don’t know what they will do, or if europe’s journey to the right is done — or just beginning.

  2. Well I think anything is better than the current status quo where the current pc liberal pc elites are ignoring the demands/requirements of their voters. Trump in my opinion was elected on three issues. 1) illegal migration 2) poorer working-class Americans being completely ignored 3) big sprawling government bureaucracy. Very much what is happening over the pond here in Europe.

    1. Ivan,

      “I think anything is better than the current status quo”

      Those words should send a chill through anyone familiar with history. Please read a bit. You’ll see that for all its faults, things can easily become far worse than the current status quo.

      That doesn’t mean today is like Heaven. It doesn’t mean that people should not work for political reform. But carefully. Things break more easily than they are improved.

    2. As shown by D. Trump.

      Don’t be afraid of change Larry – but I agree slowly, slowly catchee monkee which doesn’t seem to be on Donald Trump’s pagescript.

      Also I am a graduate in English from St Andrews University and have been reading all my life. At the age of 55 I am continuing to read. I suggest you read my current book ‘The Sugar Barons’ which will give you some insights into slavery in the Caribbean.

    3. Ivan,

      “Don’t be afraid of change Larry”

      Why is that a rational response to what I said?

      “I am a graduate in English from St Andrews University ”

      So what? Your statement showed some ignorance of history. Just as your comment about climate showed an appalling ignorance about climate science. You are zero for two about sophomore level issues, statements that would get you an “F” in a history or climate science course. Waving your diplomas makes your statements sadder to read, but is otherwise irrelevant.

      More interesting than invoking credentialism would be some effort by you to support your statements. Why do you believe “anything” would be better than the current status quo? Why do you believe that citing the IPCC and major climate agencies is equivalent to climate denial?

      Or admit you misspoke, wrote in haste, or were wrong.

      You are discussing serious issues affecting the fate of millions or billions of people.

  3. “Stratfor says that the new right-wing political actors will be assimilated by existing elites (who are like the Borg).”

    It’s never different this time until it is. The ruling class in Europe have been pretty successful so far in keeping dissent contained, but they also keep doubling down. The same could be said about the ruling class here.

    I think a lot will depend on whether or not the Right parties in Europe can find capable leaders and on just how far the establishment is willing to go to squelch dissent. I’m uncertain about both.

    1. The Man,

      Nicely said. At some point almost everything depends on leaders. We were lucky in 1861 and 1932. Other nations have been unlucky at such points in their history. Or perhaps this is just workings of “Nature’s god” (or Disney’s Great Circle of Life). Who can say?

      “Every nation has the government it deserves.”
      — Joseph de Maistre (lawyer, diplomat, philosopher), Letter #76 dated 13 August 1811, published in Lettres et Opuscules.

      “Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
      — attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.

    2. I’d say the establishment is realizing it cannot simply squelch dissent. Until recently you saw huge economic and political pressure whenever there was open dissent, which ended up working; the best example was in Ireland, where the European Commission forced repeated referendums for EU treaties until people vote “yes”. They tried this again for the Brexit vote, and it didn’t work; now we see open dissent elsewhere: Poland, Hungary and Portugal have defied the EC with little punishment. It wasn’t so long ago that only France, Germany and the UK could get away with this.

      On one hand we see the establishment doubling down, e.g. the EC trying to punish the UK for Brexit. But on the other hand we also see some talk about reform, of addressing some issues that euro-skeptic voters are worrying about: more devolved powers to national governments, more democratic accountability for the EC, stronger external borders, rules against “welfare tourism” and “internal tax havens”… Just recently the EC has limited work mobility rules which allowed e.g. a Pole to work in France getting Polish minimum wage if he worked for a Polish company (which is much lower that the French minimum wage).

      It’s difficult to see if these are only cosmetic reforms, or if they are simply too little, too late. But I think the establishment is at least trying to change their attitude and accommodate some dissent. I think Brexit scared them into it.

  4. Speaking from Portugal, which just turned left, not right. However, when you look into it, the hard left parties which support the government (Left Block and Communist Party) are also euro-skeptical, campaigning with proposals such as abandoning the Stability Pact or the Euro (and a referendum on the EU); even if they have typical left agendas otherwise, e.g. nationalizing the largest companies or allowing sex change for minors. I’d say you can see similar movements in Greece with Syriza (although reality currently forces them to support the EC line) and in Spain with Podemos. So, I think that these left turns also follow the euro-skeptic trend in the rest of Europe; and that it’s not completely correct to say that “Europe is turning right”, but rather say that “Europe is turning nationalist”.

    1. JP,

      Thank you for this perspective from Europe!

      Still, I’m wonder if action in Portugal and Greece is evidence against a “turn to the right” in Europe — when Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic (to name just the most recent) are going right. No movement is unanimous across a large region like Europe.

      Also, is Spain turning to the Left? After the 2016 election the Unidos Podemos alliance has only 20% of the seats in the Congress of Deputies and 9% in the Senate.

    2. Larry,

      My argument is a bit different: I think that Europe turning right or left are two sides of the same coin, i.e. Europe turning nationalist. Perhaps Portugal and Greece are turning to the left instead of the right due to the austerity measures imposed by the EC, or maybe it’s just that our right-wing dictatorships are still fresh in the memory of many people; but I think that they share issues with right-wing movements elsewhere, especially more national sovereignty and less EC control.

      As for Spain, I think the rise of Podemos is significant if you note that it was only created in 2014, and got 21% of the Congress vote (and became the third largest party) in 2015; the far left had about 7% vote in 2011. I don’t look at Senate votes since many positions are not elected. This is comparable to the rise of e.g. AfD in Germany, from 5 to 13%. But then again, the fracture between unionists and separatists makes the situation difficult to understand, as you have both right-wing and left-wing separatist parties in Catalonia and other communities, and all seem to be on the rise.

      However, I think that the rise of separatist movements in Spain (not only in Catalonia) is consistent with the trend I pointed above, i.e. a rise in demands for national sovereignty in Europe. However, Spain being a multi-national country, this trend becomes a demand for separation from Madrid, rather than Brussels.

    3. JP,

      Thank you for the additional explanation. Even knowing little about Europe, like a good American should, that makes sense to me.

      So the picture is more complex than movement on the one-dimensional left-right axis. I hadn’t thought of that, but have often said that in times of change we need to look at it in multiple dimensions. The obvious one is the idiotic “were the Nazi’s a left or right movement?” That’s why Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is such a valuable political science textbook. It reminds us to think in more than one dimension.

    4. Larry,

      Thanks. I tend to see this as more of a fight between unity and diversity in Europe, with diversity parties coming in many colors. The motivations and alliances of diversity movements are often context-specific and unorthodox. For example, there are many gay activists inside nationalist parties in the Netherlands, as they fear the intolerance of Muslim immigrants for homosexuality, which crosses what (I believe) would be a pretty sharp left-right divide in the US. Another example, independence in Catalonia is being pushed by a coalition of left and right parties, which led to the emergence of an unionist left-and-right coalition in Spain. Even having traveled, worked and lived in several EU countries, it’s not easy to make sense of things.

    5. There is also a curious uniformity in all these local and nationalist parties. Obviously to some extent it’s because they deal with the same factors, but I remember we saw some of those talking points bounce over here, even if I don’t think anyone was convinced by Trump saying “I will protect you, the LGBT community, from the scary foreign man who shot up Pulse.”

      But he said that, instead of “nothing” or “this is horrible, my deepest condolences. Moment of silence. Now back to Crooked Hillary:”

    6. SF,

      “There is also a curious uniformity in all these local and nationalist parties.”

      That’s a commonplace in history. Ideas sweep through a civilization like flood waters. The roughly similar mystery religions, including Christianity, spreading through the Roman Empire like a virus. Ditto for the 1930s — see Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by the great Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

    7. Larry,

      I would add to Tony’s point that the Labour party has shifted markedly towards the left in their proposals, if I understand things correctly. So, this would be a left turn, in the sense that a traditional mainstream left party had to shift its stance to adapt to the electorate.

      You see this happening elsewhere in Europe, but mostly with traditional conservative parties shifting to the right in response to extreme right-wing parties. E.g. in the Netherlands, the ruling VVD party has adopted a platform promoting the “normalization” of Dutch immigrants, meaning the forced adoption of what they see as basic cultural values, mostly under pressure of the right-wing VVD (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/23/dutch-prime-minister-warns-migrants-normal-gone-fends-populist/). This would have been considered an extreme right-wing position back in 2012.

      So, not only do you see a turn towards left or right, you also see larger differences between both sides. This is not completely bad, in my opinion; at least voters now seem to have a real choice in elections.

    8. JP,

      “shifting to the right in response to extreme right-wing parties.”

      Yes, the surge in strength of extreme parties is what drives the “turn to left/right” in Europe’s politics. Policies have changed in Europe over time as the major parties have evolved, but on a smaller scale than we’re seeing now.

      “at least voters now seem to have a real choice in elections.”

      A bigger one than they have in the US. Which is nice, in theory. That many choose extreme parties is imo a sign that the bolts are popping out in Europe. They have a long history of infatuation with extremes of left and right. It has seldom ended well for them. At some point this becomes a triumph of enthusiasm over experience.

    9. JP – The UK just had a leftward turn as well with Corbyn’s Labour gaining more vote share than it has since ’45. The UK was particularly interesting because the Tory’s ran a pretty nationalist campaign (e.g. Corbyn’s a terrorist sympathizer, he doesn’t love the soldiers, etc, etc) yet it failed miserably against Labour’s broadly left platform. The nationalist-right party (UKIP) lost big too despite coming off arguably their biggest political success with the Leave campaign. Interesting times no doubt.

    10. Tony,

      “The UK just had a leftward turn as well with Corbyn’s Labour gaining more vote share than it has since ’45.”

      True, but that is just a shift between the two big parties that have ruled since WWII. By “turns to left/right” people mean that new parties break the most-WWII models – usually with radical new policy proposals. Like AfD in Germany.

  5. When people say ‘turned to the left/right’ they mean a party/person has changed political positions compared to previous ones without necessarily meaning it was a radical break. Saying ‘Corbyn moved the party leftward’ doesn’t necessarily imply that he must be breaking post-WWII models. I don’t think it’s really a productive way of framing the issue anyway. For example, Corbyn’s talked favorably about nationalizing key industries – not exactly a ‘new’ or ‘radical’ proposal from a historical perspective, but very significant when considering Labour’s trajectory under Blair or the reigning political ‘wisdom’ of the last thirty years.

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