Austrians worried as far-right FPO rises in European elections

Party's campaign focusing on war in Ukraine, living costs, security, and migration resonated with working class

09:37 - 14/06/2024 Friday
File photo
File photo

Austrians expressed concerns over the far-right Freedom Party of Austria's (FPO) win in the European Parliament (EP) elections on June 9, securing nearly 26% of the vote.

The FPO's unprecedented victory, increasing its MEPs from three to six, has drawn attention across Europe.

The party's campaign, focusing on the war in Ukraine, living costs, security, and migration, resonated with the working class, especially those with lower incomes traditionally aligned with Social Democrats.

- Low voter turnout in elections

Citizens' interest in the EP elections was lower than expected, with mainstream political parties losing ground or failing to make a serious presence.

Experts attribute low voter turnout of just 55% to the public's mistrust in the political establishment.

- Fear among voters

Many Austrians expressed fear the FPO could become the leading party in the upcoming general election on Sept. 29.

"Europe's shift to the right scares me. I hope voters act more rationally next time," Simon, an Austrian, voiced his dismay.

Expressing fear about rising xenophobia, he added: "These people (far-right) pit communities against each other to gain power."

Laurel Rot, originally from Germany, echoed this concern, saying: "We went through this years ago when everything shifted completely to the right. Now again, we don't know what the consequences will be. It's scary and difficult."

Paul Wolfsberger, a first-time voter, said he respects the electoral process but found it "frightening" that many supported the FPO. "I do not like the party's approach," he added.

Belgian-origin Jean Marie said Europe's shift to the right was expected.

Stating that he used to support the EU, he added it has become disorganized. "Instead of promoting peace, it now pushes for war with Russia," he commented, questioning the EU's current trajectory.

Alona Musienko, a Ukrainian refugee in Austria, expressed her community's concern over the rise of right-wing parties. She noted it is very important for Ukranians that the EU helps them win the war. She said seeing a pro-Russian party gain majority votes is "very sad."

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