Sebastian Kurz of Austria's conservative People's party listens during a joint press conference with the far-right Freedom party’s Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: AFP

By Ralph Atkins and Mehreen Khan
17 December 2017

ZURICH (Financial Times) – Austria’s far-right nationalist Freedom party will control several powerful ministries when the country’s new government is sworn in on Monday, after it struck a coalition deal that will significantly toughen Vienna’s stance on immigration and asylum seekers.

In a breakthrough for the Eurosceptic Freedom party, it will govern together with the centre-right People’s party of 31-year-old chancellor-elect Sebastian Kurz. The Freedom party will take control of the defence, interior and foreign ministries while its leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who has warned of Austria’s “Islamification”, will become vice-chancellor.The progress and policies of Mr Kurz’s government will be closely watched around the EU, where mainstream politicians have grown increasingly concerned about the rise of nationalist and populist political forces.

Pierre Moscovici, the EU’s centre-left commissioner for economics, warned that the Freedom party’s presence should “arouse the vigilance” of democrats who supported European values. “The presence of the extreme right in power is never trivial,” he said.Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front who failed in her presidential bid in May, said Freedom’s government role in Austria was “excellent news for Europe”. [more]

Far-right Freedom party enters Austrian government

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