Austria’s Welcome to a Party With a Nazi Past

Austria’s Welcome to a Party With a Nazi Past


Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, center, held a news conference on Tuesday after his first cabinet meeting.

Joe Klamar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Austria’s new chancellor has given an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim party founded by ex-Nazis key posts in his coalition government, an alarming move that may help define a new normal in Europe.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz dashed hopes that he and his conservative People’s Party would reject an alliance with the extremist Freedom Party. Instead, Mr. Kurz cut the Freedom Party a generous political bargain.

The pro-European Mr. Kurz handed this party with roots in Austria’s Nazi past the defense portfolio and the powerful posts for the interior and foreign ministries, in exchange for its dropping demands for a referendum on European Union membership.

Austria’s migration policy will now include seizing migrants’ cellphones on entry, stripping migrants of their cash and depriving them of medical confidentiality.

Several countries in the bloc, including Poland and Hungary, are already governed by anti-migrant, right-wing governments. And Italy has taken a harder line on migrants crossing the Mediterranean, working with Libya’s coast guard to return them to Libya — where they are extorted, tortured and enslaved — before they get to Italian soil.

Mr. Kurz wants to go further and accelerate deportations. “Stopping and returning illegal migrants to their countries of origin,” he wrote in Time magazine on Monday, “must become standard procedure.”

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