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ANALYSIS: What does Austria's far-right win in the EU elections mean for foreigners?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
ANALYSIS: What does Austria's far-right win in the EU elections mean for foreigners?
Chairman of the right-wing Freedom Party Austria (FPOe), Herbert Kickl (R), and top candidate for the European election Harald Vilimsky react as they arrive to an election party in Vienna, Austria on June 9, 2024. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

Austria's far-right party FPÖ came out victorious in this weekend's European elections, but what are the domestic implications after their historic success, particularly for foreigners in the country?


One popular saying in Austria, Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel (after the game is before the game, meaning preparation and training never stops), has been repeated over and over since the EU election results. But with a twist: Austrians now write that Nach der Wahl ist vor der Wahl, or after the election is before the election.

The wordplay is based on the fact that the most significant impact the EU election results will have on Austrian domestic politics is to be seen in the upcoming national elections. The EU vote has made it clear who is in a strong position ahead of the autumn vote and who needs to fight to win over voters.

Namely: the far-right FPÖ will ride on the wave of its victory after it secured a "blue miracle" in the EU elections.

The FPÖ, otherwise known as the Freedom Party, had never won a European or National Council election. Even if it's unlikely to get a full majority next autumn, its position has undoubtedly been strengthened.

READ ALSO: What we learned from the European elections across Europe

FPÖ as a major player

The far-right party was already a major player before: it had seats in the National Council, it won several local and regional elections in Austria, and it has been the (junior) partner in a federal coalition before. However, its extreme positions still made it somewhat of a pariah on a national level. All the other major parties had said that they would not form a coalition with the FPÖ if the far-right led by Herbert Kickl won the next elections.

Even Austria's president Alexander Van der Bellen did not rule out the possibility that he would use his largely ceremonial role to block someone like Kickl from forming a government coalition.

Even without the EU elections result blocking or refusing to hold coalition talks with the FPÖ would already have been difficult, given the party is riding high in voting intentions (surveys for months have consistently put them in around 30 percent of the votes).

But now, as the Freedom Party not only becomes a more prominent voice in the EU but joins a euro-wide movement of countries (Italy, France, and Germany have all strongly backed their far-right candidates) leaning right, ignoring them becomes that much harder.

READ ALSO: Öxit: What would it cost Austria if it left the EU?

The bottom line is the chances of an FPÖ-led coalition ruling Austria after the 2024 federal elections have increased drastically.

If that happens it could significantly impact the lives of foreigners living in the country. The FPÖ has not been shy to advocate for stronger borders and a stop to the asylum policy in the country. More importantly perhaps the party has also campaigned for certain benefits and rights to be reserved for Austrain's only, such as several government assistance programs and employment benefits.


EU laws would make it impossible for the party to remove rights from European Union citizens in the country but would not block from creating policies targeted at other nationalities.

The FPÖ has also a strong conservative stance, consistently going against LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights and advocating for "traditional Austrian values". Muslims are often targeted in their speech. An FPÖ-led coalition could approve laws from banning gendered language to making it harder for foreigners to get Austrian citizenship, for example. 

READ ALSO: When can Austrian citizenship be revoked?

What about at the EU level?

Europe’s far-right parties were winners in many places, coming out on top in France, Italy and Austria. At the same time, Germany’s AfD came second — but still ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD party — and the hard-right also did well in the Netherlands.

But experts warned against reading too much into their success. Some mention that those were "second-order elections" that did not mean a "significant push". But also, there were many questions on whether or not the different far-right groups could unite and push their agenda together.


Most importantly, the number of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from far-right groups is not enough to form a blocking minority, so they are expected to have only a limited impact on the bloc, at least as it stands.



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