Austria far right calls for EU ‘remigration’ commissioner


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File photo. Herbert Kickl, leader of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe), arrives for the party's traditional political Ash Wednesday meeting in Ried im Innkreis, Austria, 14 February 2024. [EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA]

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) on Tuesday (11 June) called for the government to name an EU “remigration” commissioner after winning the EU elections in the Alpine nation.

The FPÖ espouses the far-right concept of remigration that calls for expelling people of non-European ethnic backgrounds who they say have failed to integrate.

While it is up to the conservative government to nominate any commissioner, the FPÖ said its first nationwide win at the ballot box gave it the right to name someone to the role and dictate their portfolio.

In the EU elections, the FPÖ took 25.4% of the votes, just ahead of the ruling conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) on 24.5%.

“What I have noticed in the last few weeks during the election campaign is that there is above all a need for sensible migration policy, that there is a need for remigration,” FPÖ secretary general Christian Hafenecker told a press conference.

“We need a remigration commissioner,” he added, putting forward an FPÖ official to fill the role.

It is not the first time the FPÖ has espoused the concept.

In 2023, party leader Herbert Kickl said that those who “refuse to integrate” should lose their citizenship and be expelled.

The notion of remigration is associated with white nationalists who champion the great replacement conspiracy theory.

The theory alleges a plot to replace Europe’s so-called native white population with non-white migrants.

The United Nations rights chief warned in March that the conspiracy theories spread are “delusional” and racist and are directly spurring violence.

The FPÖ is expected to top the vote in September’s national elections, but will probably need to find willing coalition partners to govern.

The party — founded in the 1950s by former Nazis — has been part of a ruling coalition several times but has never governed the country of nine million.

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