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Austria’s political scandal leaves Europe’s conservatives in the spotlight – International

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Roland Schlager / APA / AFP

BERLIN – When Sebastian Kurtz became chancellor Austria, everything to Europe was on the lookout. At the age of 31, he changed the fate of his weakened Conservative Party and, almost overnight, became a role model for fighting center-right leaders in other parts of the continent.

Four years later, Kurz was forced to resign in connection with a criminal investigation into charges that he used public money to manipulate opinion polls and bribe tabloids for favorable coverage of his activities. Its fall is unique in Austria, but it could affect the whole of Europe.

This comes at a time when the political landscape of Europe seems increasingly fragmented, and the once powerful traditional center-left and center-right parties have given way to a host of new political actors, including the most extreme.

Young and knowledgeable about the influence of the media, Kurz described himself as someone who has a formula for keeping a great center in the midst of devastation. He embraced the anti-immigration rhetoric of the increasingly powerful far-right and transformed the traditionally austere Austrian People’s Party into a political move that attracted hundreds of thousands of new supporters.

“Why don’t we have such a person?” – complained the German tabloid Bild in October 2017.

But recent accusations against him and a set of previously published evidence suggest that the very communications strategy that earned him conservative voices domestically and admiration in conservative circles abroad was “deeply immoral” at best and illegal at worst, Thomas said. … Hofer, a longtime European politics observer and independent political advisor based in Vienna.

“What we are seeing in Austria is the collapse of the new narrative of the conservative parties in Europe,” Hofer said. “Internationally, Kurtz’s model was something that others scrutinized as a possible response to right-wing populists.”

Across Europe, weakened traditional center-right parties have struggled to reinvent themselves, sometimes flirting with the temptation to shift to the right.

In neighboring Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, which ruled the country for 52 years out of the past 72 years, including the past 16 years, lost spectacularly last month. This was the worst election result ever for the party.

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In France, where five of the eight presidents have been Conservatives since the formation of the fifth republic in 1958, the traditional center-right party has not won national elections since 2007.

And in Italy, Christian Democrats ruled the country for almost half a century after World War II; however, over the past two decades, right-wing political forces have become increasingly radical and fragmented.

One of the few successful center-left leaders in Western Europe is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – and he, like Kurz, has adopted not only the anti-immigrant nationalist rhetoric of populists, but also his aggressive symbiotic relationship with the tabloids.

Some analysts say recent events in Austria suggest that Kurz’s political strategy is not a viable long-term course of action to revive centrist conservatism.

“Kurtz is the one who took the traditional center-right party, pulled it into a populist regime, and now he’s in trouble,” said Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European history at Oxford University.

One lesson, says Garton Ash, is that the decline of traditional parties includes both right-wing and left-wing parties and is structural and also likely irreversible. “The big center-right and center-left parties that dominated Western Europe after 1945 are not what they were and are unlikely to return to what they were,” he said.

Across Europe, elections have revealed a more fragmented society that increasingly challenges traditional political labels.

For much of the post-war era, European countries tended to have a large center-left party and a large center-right party. Center-left parties advocated a working class organized into powerful trade unions, while center-right parties brought together a wide range of middle and upper class voters, from religious conservatives to free market business owners. Quite often, one side had 40% of the vote.

The Social Democratic parties lost this status some time ago. With fewer union members and the fact that part of the traditional working class has abandoned the center-left, its share of the vote has declined since the early 2000s.

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If in the last decade the crisis of social democracy was a familiar topic, now the crisis of conservatism has fully manifested itself. However, analysts say that while the old conservative parties have shrunk, many of their politicians remain dominant in Europe.

“If you look at Germany, France or Italy, you will see that it is not the classical center-right conservatives who won the election or are in power, but the policy is traditionally center-right,” said Dominique Moisi, political scientist and senior adviser to the Montaigne Institute in Paris.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron expanded the French party system by winning elections with his En Marche movement, but the pro-European market liberal who was once considered center-left has recently clearly moved to the right.

Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy, is not affiliated with any party, but as President of the European Central Bank, he is considered the center. Even in Germany, where the Social Democrat won the recent election by a small margin, the party’s candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, was Merkel’s finance minister and somehow more connected to her government than his party itself.

“The sharp division between left and right that has dominated European politics has become less obvious and no longer relevant,” Moisi said. “The extreme right is much more radical. The center-right is moving even further towards the center, while the classical left has completely collapsed, as in France, or is struggling to survive with the Green parties. And the political landscape is much more fragmented than it used to be. ”

That hasn’t stopped some political leaders from looking for ways to resurrect the past – and looking at Kurz as a role model. “You can see in Austria that Sebastian Kurtz manages as a young conservative politician to be number 1 among the youth,” said Tilman Kuban, leader of the youth wing of the German Conservatives, a few days after his party’s crushing defeat in the election.

Christoph Ploss, head of the Christian Democrats in Hamburg, also pointed to Austria as a “good example” of how to bring back conservatism. “Here,” he said, “the party is back with a clear direction.” Both declined to comment when asked last week if they changed the charges against Kurz.

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It is difficult to say what exactly Kurz’s resignation means. He resigned as chancellor on Saturday after his fellow Green Party coalition members said they could not continue to rule with him due to ongoing accusations and threatened with a nod of confidence. But he remains the leader of his party and legislator in parliament.

Some predict that even after his long-time and loyal successor, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, takes over as chancellor on Monday, Kurz will still have the reins and may even negotiate a return at some point.

Once a conservative youth leader who handed out condoms as a campaign joke and at one point earned a reputation as minister of liberal integration, Kurz turned sharply to the right, winning elections and joining a coalition with the right-wing Freedom Party.

After his first government collapsed two years ago, he was re-elected and further increased his party’s share of the vote. Thus, he formed an unlikely coalition with an even smaller Green Party.

In many ways, Kurz represents less traditional conservatism and more typical political opportunism associated with the new line of right-wing politics that developed in Europe between the center-right movements of the past and the mass of rowdy far-right parties in Europe. … extreme.

“The new right-wing politics that deals with immigration and identity is the right-wing politics that you see all over Europe,” said Garton Ash. According to him, the temptation to move to the right is unlikely to completely disappear, even after the scandals involving Austria.

“You could say that the most dangerous populists are the ones who least resemble the populists,” said Garton Ash. “That’s true for Johnson, and that’s true for Kurtz.”

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Ibovespa falls by 2.75% and returns to 107 thousand points; the political scenario and dismissals in the Ministry of Economy are not far off

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Bolsa de São Paulo (Marivaldo Oliveira/Estadão Conteúdo)

On the day of massive losses, Ibovespa, the main B3 index on Thursday, January 21, closed with a 2.75% drop. 107,735 points with investors are worried about the worsening fiscal situation in the country.

On Ibovespa, the only stocks to close higher were Suzano (SUZB3), which gained 1.47% following the announcement of the expectation of the plan. removing 40 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2025; and the BB Seguridade (BBSE3) papers, which had a slight increase of 0.80%. Klabin blocks (KLBN11) closed stable.

The index’s biggest loss was with Getnet (GETT11), whose units recorded a 19.76% drop since its debut at B3 on Monday.

Among the highlights of the day, the special committee Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) Precatorium the cost ceiling rule has been changed. This change uses a new methodology that takes into account the consumer price index (IPCA) from January to December, rather than the period from June to June.

If the change is approved, the government will be able to increase spending by 8.7%, which is inflation market analysts forecast for this year.

If this larger reserve is added to the increase in the part of the payment of court orders, the budget for 2022 is approximately R $ 83 billion.

It is worth noting that this budget space will be used to finance adjustments to social programs within the spending ceiling.

To make matters worse, the foreign market contributed to the collapse of the Brazilian stock exchange. with concerns about the Chinese real estate sector and rising global inflation.

On wall street The Dow Jones Index closed almost steady, with a slight fall of 0.02% to 35,603 points; S&P 500 rose 0.30% to 4549 points; the Nasdaq index rose 0.62% to 15,215 points.

Economic agenda

There are no indicators on the agenda this Friday, August 22nd. Thus, the focus remains on the political scenario. the resignation of Bruno Funchal, Special Minister of Finance and Budget, and Jefferson Bittencourt, Secretary of the National Treasury, should affect investor sentiment.

The panic in the ministry was even greater when Deputy Special Secretary of the Treasury and Budget Guildenora Dantas and Deputy Secretary of the National Treasury Rafael Araujo left their positions.

According to the portfolio, ministry employees left for personal reasons.

The foreign economic agenda is expected to publish data on various purchasing managers’ indexes (PMI). PMI from Germany, Eurozone and USA will leave.

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Charles Michel advocates “political dialogue” after debate on Poland

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Charles Michel advocates "political dialogue" after debate on Poland

Dand according to sources – only on Friday the leaders will give a press conference, and there will not even be written conclusions, since this topic was not officially on the agenda – the discussion, which threatened to interfere with the summit that began today, “took place in a serene atmosphere” and provided ” the ability to identify specific challenges and better understand different points of view. “

Council President Charles Michel “concluded that the political dialogue must continue in search of solutions,” and today’s debate is “a step that should help lead to solutions.”

However, according to European sources, the European Council considered the protection of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary to be “absolutely fundamental”, with several Member States advocating the use of mechanisms already in treaties and legislative texts to enforce it. respect, and some legal and institutional instruments are already in place or may soon be in place.

The debate on the rule of law – “addressed” informally, at the request of several member states, in light of the recent ruling by the Polish Constitutional Court that there are national rules that take precedence over European law – threatened to overshadow the European Council, which was launched today in Brussels and will run until Friday.

Just today, in a resolution adopted in Strasbourg, the European Parliament condemned Poland’s attacks on the rule of law in the EU and called on the European Council to take a “clear position” on the crisis and issue a joint statement “in the most energetic forms.” … “, Which will not happen.

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MEPs also defended economic sanctions, stressing that “EU taxpayers’ money should not be transferred to governments that grossly, deliberately and systematically compromise European values.”

The resolution approved today was preceded by a debate on Wednesday between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Speaking upon arrival at the European Council, whose agenda is the Poland / EU crisis, Morawiecki said he was “ready to talk” but rejected “the pressure of blackmail”.

“We will not act under the pressure of blackmail, [mas] we are ready for dialogue, ”the Polish Prime Minister said.

Portugal is represented at the summit by Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who today declined to make statements on his arrival at the Council.

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“There is room for an agenda that awakens hope.”

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Minister Facin mentions "authoritarian populism" that threatens democracy

67-year-old businessman Fabio Barbosa was one of the signers of the manifesto, signed by entrepreneurs and intellectuals in support of the country’s electoral system, and took part in the action against the government of Jair Bolsonaro, held on Avenida Paulista on 12 September. Barbosa, who participates in four groups with businessmen and leaders who want to take part in next year’s election debate, said in an interview state that the business world is now waking up for political debate.

What does Brazil need to do to restore its economy? Which reforms are most relevant?

The legal framework for basic sanitation is an important reform that has not always been highlighted. It has set universal targets for 2033 for the population for wastewater treatment and clean water. This is revolutionary. There have been positive developments, but in some the government has not accelerated. One of them is administrative reform. This must be done. It was a mistake that we didn’t. Let’s see if anything comes out of the tax reform before the end of the year.

Does business today have a more conservative or progressive view of the identity agenda?

Entrepreneurs and leaders have come to realize that society requires more interconnected actions with companies. Social integration topics are much more intertwined. Companies are working on their policies and are seeing how to eliminate the unconscious bias that prevents some people from being able to. Companies realized that a diverse group was better than a peer group. Society requires companies to take a stand on these issues. Entrepreneurs are much more involved with these topics, whether out of conviction or convenience.

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What should be the main topics of the pre-election debate in 2022?

There are two themes. It is very important to discuss the environmental issue. We have to position ourselves. As well as social inclusion with equal opportunities through education.

In your opinion, have organizations and business leaders taken a belated stance on the behavior of President Jair Bolsonaro?

This issue began to linger as the president became more active in his opposition to democracy. The business sector, which has rarely mobilized, has chosen to publicly voice its concerns. It was important to get back on your feet. I see the growing participation of society in politics. I see that more and more people want to run for public office. Bolsonaro’s statements changed the level of concern.

How do you see the pre-election debate?

I want people to vote because they believe, not because they are afraid. I see people voting out of fear. There are many opportunities for a focused agenda that awakens hope. The left has taken over a monopoly on public good discourse. I see that the most liberal people in the economic situation show social concerns. We want a better country. The path is a lesser state presence, giving more space to the private sector.

Do you believe in the third path in the 2022 election?

The definition of the PSDB, which will take place in November in the preview, will be very important for the start of the game. Neither Bolsonaro nor Lula want a third name. The candidate who has appeared now will receive many blows from both sides. The right time will be next year. You need one or two candidates from the center.

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Do you see your favorite name?

There is a place and time for growth (the third way). Without defining a PSDB preview, nothing will happen. From this point on, alliances will be made.

Information from the newspaper State of Sao Paulo.

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