Vienna—The ballots have been sealed.
The conservative ÖVP won the Austrian legislative election with 32%. The socialist SPÖ, with 26.9% and right-wing FPÖ, with 26%, contest for second place. Final results will be announced on Thursday.
But it matters not since the ÖVP and FPÖ will be most likely forming a right-leaning coalition with Sebastian Kurz, aged 31, as Chancellor.
What does it mean to the US?
Quite a lot, considering FPÖ’s pro-Russia, anti-EU, and anti-NATO views.
In 2016, the party signed a five-year cooperation agreement with Putin’s United Russia Party. For years, it’s been opposing EU sanctions to Moscow over Crimea and Ukraine, and it supported the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia. If history is a solid arbiter, an ÖVP – FPÖ government will probably aim for a lighter foreign policy towards Moscow.
Although Western by all standards, in 1955 Austria signed an Agreement of Permanent Neutrality—it remains in effect.
And although FPÖ’s leader Heinz-Christian Strache backed Trump during the US presidential election, he’s reversed his position since then over the April cruise missile strikes in Syria.
The FPÖ has an interesting history. Founded in 1956 by a former SS officer, it’s a pan-Germanic nationalist agenda. In 2000, when it first entered government alongside the ÖVP, the EU imposed diplomatic sanctions on Austria.
Right-wing, pro-Russian parties, have been surging in recent European elections. In Germany, for example, the far-right AfD, which came third in the recent German election and will be governing as a junior partner with Angela Merkel’s CDU, has pledged to lift sanctions on Russia.
Considering these events and what appears as an American isolationist foreign policy, time will tell how much Putin will benefit.
Featured image courtesy of AP