Record influx of irregular migrants in Austria, far right in check
The Austrian government has been called upon to tackle the problem of illegal immigration as more than three thousand irregular migrants and refugees entered the country this week, beating the record set in the first week of September.
With the presidential election scheduled for October 9 and most candidates coming from the right-wing political spectrum, the election campaign has brought issues such as immigration to the forefront of the debate.
Austria saw a huge influx of refugees this year as it registered 47,000, up from 19,000 in 2021. Most are from the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
“Bad records follow each other every week. But that still doesn’t seem to encourage the current ÖVP interior minister, [Gerhard] Karner, act »explained Hannes Amesbauer, security spokesman for the FPÖ, who warned against this “100,000 illegal refugees”.
The government has also been targeted by the social democratic SPÖ, which is currently a member of the opposition.
“The Minister of the Interior [Gerhard] Karner is completely overwhelmed with asylum programs”, explains the party. They note an inability to seek international solutions “appropriate”.
For years, the refugee issue dominated Austrian politics, with the most restrictive policies being implemented during the two-year tenure of FPÖ Interior Minister Herbert Kickl.
This could challenge the country’s more left-wing president, Alexander van der Bellen, since the welcome policy is traditionally right-wing.
If he does not achieve a simple majority in the first ballot, the right, united behind the FPÖ candidate Walter Rosenkranz, could challenge Mr. van der Bellen.
In a similar second round in 2016, the far right came close to winning.
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