Although identitarianism is still largely taboo in Austria, politicians are increasingly adopting an anti-immigration stance to keep favor with the electorate. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s coalition government, which includes both his center-right OVP party and the populist-nationalist FPO, is currently making progress in reducing mass immigration. Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, of the FPO, announced that the reception centers for asylum seekers would be transformed into deportation centers. Upon arrival, migrants will have to immediately state their reason for being in the country, and will also be subject to a curfew.
Kickl also announced that migrants will be given advice on how to return to their country of origin. The most promising proposal though is to deny asylum or residency to any migrant who entered the country with the help of people smugglers. The Austrian government is fully aware that migrants who use such traffickers pay a lot of money – and are therefore not poverty stricken as they so often claim.
The 2015 migrant crisis, which deeply affected Austria, sharpened opinion in Vienna and as a consequence brought the current right-wing coalition government to power. Last summer, the country created its ‘Puma’ police border protection unit and staged large exercises on the border involving the police and military, something which is said to have angered Angela Merkel. Austria shares a southern border with Slovenia and an eastern border with Hungary; the latter country has of course successfully built a border fence on its own southern border.
Despite numbers being much lower than 2015, the migrant crisis in the Balkans has not ended, and indeed in some areas, particularly Bosnia, things are getting worse. With Hungary’s southern border protected, traffickers and migrants are now using a route closer to the Adriatic Sea. From Greece, they move through the former Yugoslavia in the hopes of reaching Croatia, the EU’s newest member. It is estimated by the UN that in 2018 alone, 23,000 migrants, many from Pakistan and Afghanistan, moved through Bosnia.
Meanwhile, in The Netherlands, a political earthquake has occurred which has taken the country, and the wider EU, by surprise. In recent elections, a new populist-nationalist party, Forum for Democracy (FvD), became the single biggest party in its first major election test. Their success came just 2 days after the terrorist attack in Utrecht, and the party’s leader Thierry Baudet gave a memorable speech which resonated strongly with identitarianism. I’ve quoted the most interesting part below:
‘So we stand here tonight, at the eleventh hour, quite literally. We stand among the rubble of what was once the greatest and most beautiful civilization the world has ever known, a civilization that reached to the far corners of the Earth, filled with self-confidence. This civilization produced the most beautiful architecture, the greatest music, and the best art that has ever existed under the stars. Our nation is part of that great civilization.
But like all the other hyperborean nations, we are being destroyed by the very people who have been appointed to protect us. We are being undermined by our own universities, our journalists, by those who receive cultural subsidies to produce our art, and even by those who design our buildings. And above all, we are being undermined by our rulers.’
The most interesting aspect of this whole episode was that Geert Wilder’s civic nationalist anti-immigration PVV party is fading into obscurity. Once seen as the vanguard of the Dissident Right in the Netherlands, it is becoming unstuck as voters yearn for a more identity-specific kind of politics on the right. It is ironic that Wilders may have spent 20 years campaigning against Islam - and having to live with 24/7 security as a result - only to realize he has completely missed the core issue and is now losing the argument as a result.
And finally, in Denmark, the country’s hawkish immigration minister Inger Stojberg has managed to strike an agreement among several parties, in which they have agreed to pass legislation that will not only strip jihadis of their citizenship but will also strip the citizenship of their children as well. The most crucial part of this legislation is that it allows such actions to be taken by administrative order, rather than the courts, which will inevitably make the entire process quicker and more streamlined.
What is clear is that among European countries who are not a part of the Big 3 (Germany, France, and the UK), anti-immigration parties are doing very well and gaining power. Matteo Salvini’s efforts in Italy, alongside Viktor Orban’s in Hungary, only underline the change that is possible when true right wingers step onto the parapet. With a Spanish general election only a few weeks away, the possibility of more victories is only around the corner.