VIENNA (JTA) — Austria’s far-right Freedom Party will “probably be a part of the coalition” despite pleas by Jews to keep it out, the president of the Jewish Community of Vienna said.
Oskar Deutsch made the prediction last week in the aftermath of Oct. 15 elections that saw the Freedom Party finish third behind the center-right People’s Party, headed by the 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, and the Social Democrats.
“I am the president of a very small community,” said Deutsch, who called for the Freedom Party to be excluded from the government before and after the elections — about Austria’s approximately 7,000 Jews. “I don’t think that the state of Austria will listen – or maybe they’ll listen but my influence is not so big.”
The Jewish Community of Austria has said that the Freedom Party, which was founded in the 1950s by a former Nazi SS officer, is tainted by fascist tendencies and rhetoric, and that the anti-Islam party’s public rejection of anti-Semitism is lip service.
Kurz has declined to preclude any specific coalition partners, saying he would not join forces with a party that supports anti-Semitic or hateful rhetoric — a definition that may or may not apply to the Freedom Party, as its spokespeople and leader deny that their party incites hate or anti-Semitism.
On Wednesday, Kurz will begin talks with Freedom Party officials on a poss