In Brief

Austrian party founded by ex-Nazis enters coalition government

Israel weighs options as far-right Freedom Party strikes power-sharing deal

Austria is sending Europe swinging to the right as the country’s Nazi-founded Freedom Party (FPO) and conservative People’s Party (OVP) form a coalition government.

The power-sharing deal - rubber-stamped on Saturday - gives the far-right party control of the key interior, defence and foreign ministries. 

OVP leader Sebastian Kurz, 31, is being sworn in as chancellor today in Vienna, with FPO chief Heinz-Christian Strache as his deputy.

The coalition puts a “capstone on a year in which currents of jingoism and xenophobia swept across the Western world”, Salon reports.

Israel is considering how to deal with an Austrian government that includes five ministers and a vice chancellor with far-right affiliations, The Jerusalem Post reports. Meanwhile, Turkey has accused Austria’s new leaders of discrimination and racism over their pledge not to agree to Ankara entering the EU.

Protests are due to take place today in Vienna, although they are not expected to reach the levels of those held in 2000, when the two parties first teamed up, Bloomberg reports. The resulting coalition government back then ruled until 2005.

The FPO was founded in 1956 by former Nazi officers, and was led from 1986 to 2000 by Jorg Haider, “who was notorious for praising Adolf Hitler’s ‘proper employment policies’”, reports The Times. Strache was once detained by police at a torch-lit neo-Nazi demonstration, later describing his attendance as “stupid and naive”, says the newspaper.

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