Protests greet Austrian far Right’s swearing in

A protest during the government’s inauguration in Vienna on Monday.

A protest during the government’s inauguration in Vienna on Monday.   | Photo Credit: JOE KLAMAR

New govt. could slash social benefits for asylum seekers

With a heavy police presence keeping thousands of protesters at bay, Austria’s far Right was sworn in Monday as part of the new government, rounding off a triumphant year for Europe’s nationalists.

The coalition between the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ) has pledged to stop illegal immigration, cut taxes and resist EU centralisation.

Youngest leader

It is led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took over the ÖVP in May and yanked it to the Right, securing his party first place in October elections. At 31, Mr. Kurz is the world’s youngest leader.

At his side for the investiture by Austria’s President in the Hapsburg dynasty’s imperial palace in Vienna was FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, now Vice Chancellor, and FPÖ general secretary Herbert Kickl, the new Interior Minister.

Mr. Strache has said Islam “has no place in Austria” and last year called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” for her open-door refugee policy.

Anti-refugee stance

On Sunday, Mr. Strache trumpeted to his 7,50,000 followers on Facebook that the new government would slash social benefits for asylum-seekers. “It will no longer happen that migrants who have never worked here a single day or paid anything into the social system will get thousands of euros in welfare!” he said.

Some 5,500 people took part in demonstrations on Monday, police told AFP, brandishing placards such as “refugees welcome” and “Nazis out”.

A heavy police presence of about 1,500 officers, with helicopters overhead and water-cannon trucks at the ready, blocked off the area around the Hofburg palace.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 8:04:37 PM |

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