British papers have picked up on the possibility that Kurz may take Austria into the Vizegrad group, thus forming an internal EU opposition group that runs from the Baltic almost to the Adriatic. They have also mentioned that the last Turkish seige of Vienna in 1683 left the country with a permanent identity as Europe's final barrier against Islam. To a point, Lord Copper. None I've read have mentioned that it was actually the Polish Jan Sobieski who routed the Turkish forces at the gates of Vienna and it was not Austria alone but a Christian alliance that finally turned Islam from Europe's heart.
Today, Vienna is as well populated with Turkish kebab shops, per capita, as is London. Only here they're 'Kebap' shops, the pitta bread is round and the chilli sauce is bland and mild to suit Austrian palates. Most of Austria's Muslims are either Turks or from the Balkans; westernised, easy to assimilate, invisible after two or three generations. Not so Muslim migrants from Africa, Pakistan or Iraq. Austria's game plan is to assimilate the old migrants and block any more from settling; Saudi funding of mosques and imams is banned here, Salafist teaching forbidden and any segregated Islamist schools, even nurseries, subject to intense State surveillance and monitoring. And now the Burqa is banned.
It would seem obvious even to the meanest intelligence that Austria, like Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, will refuse to take part in Juncker's mad plan to distribute tens of thousands of African Muslim migrants across Europe from Italy. Austrian tanks and barbed wire at the Brenner pass are symbolic; the little border road we use to go to Tarvisio for fresh market vegetables and a pizza lunch is manned by just a pair of bored guards. This does not, however mean that Austria will formally join the Vizegrad group; the country is proud of being a bit different, and is
Kurz regards these things as internal, matters that should be determined by individual nations and not dictated from Brussels. He is, in this, closer to Jeremy Corbyn than to Theresa May. The rail operator, OeBB, is wholly state owned and services are superb and fares low. There is a popular consensus that approves the economic role of the State and also accepts that it not need be too efficient, as inefficiency means more jobs. Even estate agents are protected here with statutory house-sale fees of 3%, half-each to be paid by buyer and seller. The consequence of this last is that Austria's estate agents are the laziest and poorest quality in Europe.
There is an expression that one hears time after time in Austria - 'One hand washes the other'. It applies to everything from petty corruption to nepotism, crooked government deals and bribery. I really can't see that changing. Austria is 17th in Transparency International's corruption index, a way away from Switzerland at 5th place.
Above all this election means that the EU has lost all pretence at being a homogeneous entity. Brussels must now, rather than uniting ever more closely, become even more expert at playing realpolitik with nations determined upon their own national identity, opposed to any further loss of power, and now with enough clout to make life very difficult in Brussels. Poor Herr Juncker. One can hardly begrudge him the cognac bottle for his breakfast this morning.
*This has the knock-on that Kelag can dictate consumer hardware; instead of a UK style consumer unit costing £60 - £70 one is obliged here to install a locally-designed 'Kärnten verteiler' made by a local company and costing around €1,000. It is the size of a small fridge, made of steel, and weighs 60kg empty. It is called, without any irony, the 'Eco' by makers Schrack.