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FPÖ accused of 'smear campaign' in Styria

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FPÖ accused of 'smear campaign' in Styria
File photo: APA/epa
13:37 CET+01:00
A leaflet produced by the Styrian branch of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) which compares the income of an average Austrian family with that of a family of immigrants on benefits has been criticised by human rights organization SOS Mitmensch.

SOS Mitmensch said that the leaflet amounts to "a smear campaign" as it suggests that immigrants are sponging off the state, and are better off than Austrians. 

It compares two fictional families with three children. On the one hand is the Austrian family where the father earns an average wage and the mother works part time. Their monthly income, including family benefits, amounts to just under €2,570.

On the other hand is the immigrant family, who are seeking asylum and don’t work, and who claim €2,640 a month in needs-based social security payments and family benefits. They are €70 better off than the Austrian family - “and for doing nothing” the leaflet exclaims.

However, SOS Mitmensch accuses the FPÖ of having miscalculated and says that the Austrian family would in reality earn around €200 a month more, spokesman Alexander Pollak said.

Pollak added that needs-based social insurance, or Mindestsicherung, is only given on a temporary basis and is conditional on the recipient’s willingness to work.

"We’re demanding that the FPÖ should cease agitating against refugees and concentrate on serious politics. If it feels that needs-based social insurance is too high, or that wages are too low, then it should raise this issue - but not try to turn people against each other with false allegations,” Pollak said.

The FPÖ maintains that its figures are correct and are based on an average monthly income, not taking into account any one-off payments.

State party secretary Mario Kunasek denied that the FPÖ was trying to incite hatred, and said the leaflet was not a criticism of asylum seekers, but rather of the system.

“In many areas asylum seekers are better off than Austrian citizens and we believe it is our right to point this out. There has to be a difference between people who have paid their taxes here and those applying for asylum,” Kunasek said.

He added that needs-based social security payments needed to be revised, so that immigrants were not immediately given the highest possible amount.

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