What can Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria, be thinking regarding the meetings between Orban, Salvini and FPO?
Some have said we are too tough with Kurz, while others say we are too easy on him. Quite honestly, we don’t even know this verdict. However, as long as one knows what they are dealing with (pure political ambition), we believe one can use Kurz to their advantage…as long as they do not expect too much from him.
Kurz has done many good things and even defies Germany at times, but he has his limits.
However, it is Kurz who now finds himself in an interesting situation. Kurz says his EPP party cannot work with the “far right” but did not mention Orban or Salvini. This would have obviously been a problem for him, considering his party is in a government coalition with the FPO – which considers itself strong allies of both Orban and Salvini.
If Kurz considers Orban or Salvini to be “far-right”, he would have a very hard time arguing that the FPO is not. We certainly do not believe Kurz is perfect nor can one count on him as a reliable ally. Kurz is first and foremost a very ambitious politician and does not have the solid principles that define an Orban, Salvini or Strache.
However, Kurz is not without intelligence and realizes that it will not be the Socialists, ALDE liberals, Greens or the Grand Coalition in Germany who will be working with him to secure the external borders. They may offer Frontex “soundbites” but most are aware that this is not a serious proposal; in fact, it is likely counterproductive.
Kurz will stay with the EPP and he will play along with its EU slogans, but he is also a realist. Kurz may not associate himself with Le Pen or Wilders (neither has Orban for that matter) but we believe he has left the door open to work with Orban and Salvini. He has no other choice, unless he abandons the main platform of his campaign.
Kurz has certainly heard the usual smears used by some in the German and EU media to attack him. In addition, there are socialists in Austria looking to replace him. In the end, Kurz is smart enough not to shoot his own eyes out.
Kurz will need the support of the New Right, which includes his partners in Austria, or eventually he may find himself swallowed whole by Brussels, Paris (there is tension with Macron) and Berlin.
No doubt, we have been disappointed with Kurz in the past (Article 7) and will be again in the future; however, Kurz has done some good things (one example, he opposed UN Migration Pact) and he does not blindly follow Brussels.
The V4 Report is not ready to give up on Kurz. The Chancellor may use Orban and Salvini at times to advance his own agenda, but Orban and Salvini are smart enough to use Kurz when needed as well.
They may not have a solid chemistry, but as long as they understand the hard dynamics of a two-way street, which we believe both parties do, we believe they will work together on the core issues that bring them together when needed.
Our biggest problem with Kurz is his apparent support for the use of Article 7 against not only Hungary but Poland as well. Yet, regarding the migration front, we believe Kurz will be extremely useful, especially with the FPO at his side.
This is one of the reasons why we always considered the FPO to be vital to this alliance. They have some leverage over Kurz and provide a nice check to his ambitions.