In an ever growing sign that mainstream politicians in Europe leaning further to the right, the front-runner to the Austrian elections has made a bold move. The Foreign Minister, Mr Sebastian Kurz, stated that in respect with popular demand from Austrian citizens, his party now feels that benefits for migrants should be cut in half.
Austria is holding national elections on October 15th, two weeks after Germany. It is widely expected that young Mr Kurz will win.
The plan states that payments to refugees would be capped to a maximum amount of 560 euro per month, and per household to a maximum of 1,500 euro.
The conservative People’s Party of Mr Kurz has been leading in the opinion polls with about 33 percent ever since he took over as leader in the month of May this year. The nationalists Freedom Party and the Social Democrats are trailing with about 25 percent each.
Just as in German elections, which we reported on here, the issue of immigration is high on voter’s minds.
Mr Kurz stated that: “We must secure our welfare state and our systems … in the long term. To achieve this, we must protect our social system from further immigration. Many receive basic social benefit payments … without having paid into the social system yet. Those who work and pay taxes must not be disadvantaged.”
With this swing to the right, it is now expected that Mr Kurz would likely make a coalition with the nationalist rightwing Freedom party of the elections turn out as the polls predict.
It is however widely expected that the benefits cuts proposed would be derailed by a complaint lodged by the many NGO’s operating in Austria who claim that such is unconstitutional. The ruling will probably not come out before next year. The UN refugee agency which has it’s European headquarter in Vienna, Austria, stated that such would breach both EU and international law.
The Austrian population has shown an ever greater swing to the right. In 2009, Austria held a referendum trying to get the government to stop the further construction of minarets.