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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Austrian election - Post 3

Emmanuel Macron's reign as the EU's wunderkind did not last long. He's been usurped by a man not only younger than he is, but one dating a girl his own age, rather than being married to his grandmother. And it may well be this small nation that influences EU policy more effectively than Macron.

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 the EU's only neutral nation one of four neutral EU nations (and therefore not a NATO member). Austria sees itself as more Switzerland than Hungary, and will want to play a role with a foot in both Vizegrad and the Franco-German EU, holding a powerful but variable casting vote. 

The border
  Austria also desires an EU that suits it. A good example is electricity market deregulation. Only in Vienna and environs does one have a choice of power provider. Here 25% Länder-owned power company Kelag has the monopoly - in the face of EU requirements forcing competition - and the same applies in other Länder. As far as Austria is concerned, competition will only be implemented when it is advantageous to do so, not because Brussels says so.* Austria in particular believes state aid is a good thing, that maintaining jobs and the economy is more important than EU edicts. So firms employing over 15 or so people here rarely go suddenly bankrupt; once they've run up a million or so in debt and the banks won't extend, the local council and the province step in, arrange new contracts, commission orders, pump in money on easy terms, guarantee loans and put together asset deals, all utterly unlawful under EU rules but all utterly widespread here. 

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.


DeeDee99 said...

It will be interesting to see which other National European Leader meets him first. Merkel is busy coalition building; Macron must be spitting tacks at being upstaged by a younger man; Theresa May is busy.

What's the betting Victor Orban is the first and makes a trip to see his next door neighbour.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Ireland is also neutral. I’m sure the implications of an EU army are not lost on them.

Wildgoose said...

Ireland is only neutral because it means they get their defence for free. They know that the UK would not allow Ireland to be invaded by a hostile power and so they sit back and leave the job (and expense) to us.

Raedwald said...

SW - many thanks. A stupid slip of memory on my part.

Dave_G said...

"all utterly unlawful under EU rules but all utterly widespread here.

That sentence seems to sum up the European approach to the EU and all it stands for.

What a pity the UK don't adopt the same approach - we seem to be one of - if not the ONLY - country that applies all the demands of Europe with 'vigour'.

Maybe the British electorate wouldn't have been so 'anti' had the UK approached EU diktats with the same self-serving interest?

Sackerson said...

This relaxed approach to EU rules - is it in any way connected with the European version of the Mason-Dixon line, i.e. rule-bound Northern Protestants vs confessional-rinsed Southern Catholics? I've often thought we Brits have a (northern) Germanic attitude to law and regulation.

Budgie said...

We seem to have built for ourselves in the UK(**) a false perspective, a self image, which requires us to obey the rules at all times, whatever the cost, and despite common sense. We are so frightened of being, or being called, nationalistic that we have thrown out the baby of patriotism with it.

Our capitulation during the UK's negotiations to gain entry to the EU (EEC) was a consequence of our collective mind set. We are repeating the same mistake, on leaving. We no longer have the self belief that the Austrians have, apparently. Remains/europhiles even claim that it is "patriotic" to fawn on the EU. Yet re-defining patriotism as anti-patriotism is a death wish even for the europhiles own world view.

(**)Strictly, within the UK the English are the only ones not allowed to be patriotic (or as the BBC would have it, nationalistic). There are Scots Nats, Irish Nats, Welsh Nats, of course but no English Nats allowed.

Budgie said...

Raedwald said: "Most of Austria's Muslims are ... westernised, easy to assimilate, invisible after two or three generations."

Unfortunately not. I live in an area heavily populated with Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India (India has more Muslims than Pakistan). A few decades ago you could claim that assimilation and westernisation were occurring here. I saw evidence of it myself.

Then, for whatever reason, the process ceased. Out went English, in came "traditional" clothing. Attitudes became confrontational and hostile. This came from the children of the immigrants - children born here. They live in enclaves - by choice, with their own mosques, schools, shops, etc.

It may be called "multi-culturism, but it is apartheid. There is no assimilation any more. That process could occur anywhere - and it will not be Austria's call to make.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

They are not immigrants, they are colonists.

Anonymous said...

budgie, that's when WahhabismDeobandism came to town, in a big way circa late 70's early 80's and Gulf funded.

Anonymous said...

Sebastian Weetabix said @ 13:29

'They are not immigrants, they are colonists.'

Indeed they are and some openly admit it; though the Koran commands all of them to seek it the majority stay silent, until their imam tells them the time is now.

Raedwald said:

'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.'

From Radio Poland:

Vienna, Warsaw, Budapest likely to join forces after Austrian vote,Vienna-Warsaw-Budapest-likely-to-join-forces-after-Austrian-vote-report

The Big Question:

What If Austria-Hungary Reunited Today?


Cuffleyburgers said...

Budgie - I think you missed Radders's point. In Austria, where he is there is a cohort of Turkish and Balkan muslims dripped in over the years who have assimilated well. He is making the contrast with the vast uncontrolled waves of young men with no intention and no incentive to integrate, whose arrivl, if allowed to continue for any length of time will do untold damage to Europe's cultural fabric.

In the Uk where I am assuming you are, there are ghettoes of Muslims whose integration has been halted by multiculturalism combined simply with large concentrations in particualr areas; and then reversed among their children by Wahabbism and Salafism and all the shit stirred up by the Saudis combined by more self hating lefty crap from our so-called own people which refuses to recognise a problem.

Including the mainstream so-called conservatives who are actually blairites.

James Higham said...

"but one dating a girl his own age"

Shock, horror.

Sackerson said...

Or does Macron have an ever-ageing portrait in his attic?

Budgie said...

Cuffleyburgers, We can profitably debate why the turnaround happened in the UK. There have been a number of factors, including Saudi money and influence as you intimate.

However, far from missing Raedwald's point, I was disagreeing with it. So in a way you have missed my point. Which was that it is the children, sometimes the grandchildren, of the original immigrants (mainly from Pakistan) who have rebelled against the country they were born in. I am not talking about the current wave of African Muslims. My point was that suggesting Austria will be alright is complacent - it could happen to Austria too.

Raybond said...

According to NATO's website the following are all neutral European countries: Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Ireland and all except Switzerland are in the EU.

Thanks for these reports on the Austrian election. Hailing from the UK, but now living in Germany, I've had the chance to visit Austria a couple of times and love the place - especially Graz (twinned with my hometown of Coventry). The last time I visited in August I was slowed down to 10kph as I drove back into Germany. So much for free movement and Schengen, eh?

I also remember in the 90s the EU interfering in Austrian politics when they got upset over Jorg Haider and his Freedom party. I have no particular soft spot for Haider et al, but seeing the EU interfere as they did then made it clear what the EU post-Maastricht was going to be like - not that I had any love for the EU prior to those events. It was simply a taste of things to come.

anon 2 said...

Kurz, is it!?!?!
Think I'd have to change my name if it were that close to "The House of Darkness" and its re-sounding voice of evil!!!!

Poisonedchalice said...

@ Dave_G

That sums it up nicely. There are, in fact, only two countries that play by the EU rules and they are the UK and Germany. Germany should be no surprise to anyone because it makes the blimmin rules in the first place!

What the EU is supremely pissed off most about us leaving is 1) Money and 2) the fact that we play by the rules. They have now lost both. As Dave_G says, if only we had treated the EU's rules in the same way as all the other member states, we may have voted to stay in.

Bill Sticker said...

Add the Czech Republic to the game. Look at who they've just elected.