The leader of the eurosceptic right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) has said that immigrants who do not want to integrate should be expelled. Heinz-Christian Strache also repeated his call for separate school classes for foreign children to learn the German language, and for a limit to be set on the number of foreigners in a class.
He said it was necessary to have preparation classes to learn the German language otherwise it would not be possible to follow regular lessons. There were no problems to overcome language barriers for people from the same cultural area, whereas problems still remain with immigrants from Turkey, Strache said according to a report in The Local.
Strache’s Austrian Freedom Party made a strong showing in the elections for the European Parliament in May, winning 20 per cent of the vote and taking four of Austria’s 18 seats. The conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), which is in coalition government with the left-wing Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), came first with 27 per cent of the vote and five seats.
However, according to an Associated Press report just before the European Parliament elections, opinion polls showed that if the national elections were held at that time, “the Freedom Party would actually win them, a stunning upset of the two establishment parties that have traditionally governed Austria.”
The popularity of the Freedom Party comes despite Austria’s low unemployment (4.9 per cent) and prosperity: “Ironically, that is part of the problem,” according to the AP report. “Many view their country as an island of prosperity threatened by hostile outsiders — Muslim refugees, cheap foreign labour, or Brussels-based ‘Eurocrats’ looking to strip them from their national identity, while misappropriating their hard-earned money to bail out other EU countries.”
At a rally before the election, Strache, who is known to his supporters as H-C, called for “an end to further immigration into our labour market,” and claimed that some school classes have such a high share of Muslims that “you need a magnifying glass to find the Austrian children.”
Faced with European Union attempts to “homogenize” Europe, he said his party is alone in “fighting to keep our sovereignty, our culture and our identity,” according to the AP report. Asked what makes his party so popular, he replied: “Our honesty, our down-to-earthness, our heart and our character.”