The content of the 35-page programme announced by Austria’s coalition government on Tuesday entails a number of policies that are designed to contain the surge far-right.
In a press conference following strenuous negotiations between coalition partners, Chancellor Kern, a Social Democrats, and Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, of the People’s Party, have vowed to implement this new programme over the next 18 months.
The plan includes a ban on full-face veils in public spaces for Muslim women and the signature of an “integration contract” complete with a “statement of values” with each immigrant.
No more than 150 women wear a full veil cover in Austria, where the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is headquartered; in fact, most of the women with a full face veil are from the Middle East. A veil law has been introduced in France, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Germany and is currently debated in the Netherlands.
Following the French example, all state employees will be forbidden from wearing distinct religious symbols.
Also, the government is promising to lower social insurance contribution for businesses and restrict access to eastern European workers to Austria’s labour market, potentially violating Single Market rules.
The legislative proposal aims to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party by adopting its political agenda.