The Normalization of Right-Wing Populist Discourses and Politics in Austria

  • Karin LiebhartEmail author
Part of the Staat – Souveränität – Nation book series (SSN)


Recent developments such as the lasting impact of the economic and financial crisis of 2008 and particularly the so called “refugee crisis” of 2015—as the immigration of larger groups of people from the Near East and African countries via Eastern Europe and the Southern Mediterranean region has been termed—have posed fundamental challenges to European democracies, political parties, and policy makers. In addition, the noticeability of the effects of globalization in everyday life and relating uncertainties have contributed to feelings shared by an increasing number of voters that traditional parties are no longer able to solve today’s political, economic and social problems. Thus, people tend to support populist alternatives. The chapter focuses on the example of Austria, where the center right Sebastian Kurz List—the New People’s Party has accepted the far right-wing populist Austrian Freedom Party as junior coalition partner in December 2017. The former has itself recently turned into an in-between center right party and right-wing populist movement under the leadership of the party’s chairman and until May 2019 Austrian federal chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Due to political developments in Austria throughout the last two decades which eventually culminated in the result of the 2017 general elections and the following formation of the coalition government between the People’s Party and the Freedom Party, Austria can serve as a prime example for the analysis of a changed frame of political discourse which further supports the process of normalization of right-wing populism.


Right-wing populism Political mainstream Austria Austrian Freedom Party Sebastian Kurz List—the New People’s Party Migration Xenophobia Anti-pluralism Euroscepticism Political discourse 


  1. Agence France Press 2018. Austria rejects UN migration pact to ‘defend national sovereignty’. October 31, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  2. Aiginger, K. 2017. Europa zwischen Globalisierung und Renationalisierung, Department of Economics Working Paper Series 5682. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.Google Scholar
  3. Albertazzi, D. and D. Mc Donnell, eds. 2008. Twenty-First Century Populism. The Spectre of Western European Democracy. Houndmills Basingstoke Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Barkin, N. 2017. What Austria’s Election Says About Europe’s Political Landscape. Reuters. October 15, 2017.Google Scholar
  5. Bayer, J. 2013. Emerging Anti-Pluralism in New Democracies—the Case of Hungary. Austrian Journal of Political Science Vol. 42 (1) (2013), 95–110.Google Scholar
  6. Bell, B. 2017. Austrian Far-Right Triumph Inspires Nationalists in EU. BBC News. December 23, 2017.Google Scholar
  7. Cato, M.S. 2016. Austria’s quiet Green victory, trading in the politics of hope not fear. December 7, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  8. Entman, R.M. 1993. Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. Journal of Communication 43(4): 51–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Europe Elects - Live Projection: EU Election Result (2019). May 27, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  10. Fenger, M., M. van der Steen and L. van der Torre. 2013. The Responsiveness of Social Policies in Europe: The Netherlands in Comparative Perspective. Policy Press University of Bristol/University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gaston, S. 2017. Far-Right Extremism in the Populist Age. Briefing Paper. Berlin: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Demos.Google Scholar
  12. Gady, F-S. 2018. Has Austria Found the Answer to Right-Wing Populism? September 11, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  13. Goffman, E. 1974. Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gottschalk, P. and G. Greenberg. 2007. Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Greaves, R. 2004. Islam and the West Post 9/11. Burlington-London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  16. Grosfoguel, R. 2012. The Multiple Faces of Islamophobia. Islamophobia Studies Journal, Volume 1 (1): 9–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hafez, F., ed. 2010. Jahrbuch für Islamophobieforschung 2010 – Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz. Innsbruck: Studienverlag.Google Scholar
  18. Hafez, F. 2014. Shifting borders: Islamophobia as common ground for building pan-European right-wing unity. Patterns of Prejudice, 48 (5): 479–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hainsworth, P. 2008. The Extreme Right in Western Europe. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hainsworth, P. 2000. The Politics of the Extreme Right: From the Margins to the Mainstream. University of Michigan: Pinter.Google Scholar
  21. Harris, C. 2018. Explained: The rise and rise of populism in Europe. March 15, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  22. Häusler, A. 2008. Antiislamischer Populismus als rechtes Wahlkampfticket. In Rechtspopulismus als Bürgerbewegung. Kampagnen gegen Islam und Moscheebau und kommunale Gegenstrategien, ed. A. Häusler, 155–169. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.Google Scholar
  23. Heinisch, R. C., C. Holtz-Bacha and O. Mazzoleni, eds. 2017. Political Populism. A Handbook. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  24. Hewitt, G. 2014. Eurosceptic ‘earthquake’ rocks EU elections. May 26, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  25. Jones, O. 2016. It’s not game over. Austria stopped rightwing populism in its tracks. December 31, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  26. Judis, J.B. 2016. The Populist Explosion. How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics. Columbia University. Columbia Global Reports. New York.Google Scholar
  27. Kaltwasser, C.R. and C. Mudde, eds. 2012a. Populism in Europe and the Americas. Threat or Corrective for Democracy? Cambridge: University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kaltwasser, C.R. and C. Mudde, 2012b. Populism. A very short introduction. Oxford: University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Kaltwasser, R.T., P. Taggart, P.O. Especho and P. Ostiguy. 2017. The Oxford Handbook on Populism. Oxford: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kallis, A. 2013. Breaking Taboos and “Mainstreaming the Extreme”. The Debate on Restricting Islamic Symbols in Contemporary Europe. In Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse, eds. Wodak, R., M. Khosravinik and B. Mral. 56–70. London-New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  31. Kompatscher S., J. Urschitz and J. Zirm. n. Y. Ein Drama in fünf Akten. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  32. Kritzinger, S. and K. Liebhart 2015. Austria. In Routledge Handbook of European Elections, ed. D.M. Viola, 377–395. London: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  33. Krzyzanowski, M. 2013. From Anti-Immigration and Nationalist Revisionism to Islamophobia: Continuities and Shifts in Recent Discourses and Patterns of Political Communication of the Freedom Party of Austria. In Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse, eds. Wodak, R., M. Khosravinik and B. Mral. 133–148. London-New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  34. Krzyżanowski, M. et al. 2018. The Mediatization and the Politicization of the “Refugee Crisis” in Europe. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 16:1–2, 1–14, DOI: 10.1080/15562948.2017.1353189. Scholar
  35. Krzyżanowski, M. and R. Wodak. 2009. The politics of exclusion: debating migration in Austria. London: Transaction.Google Scholar
  36. Liebhart, K. 2011. Islamophobia in Austria. Fanatismo. 1/ May 2011. 28–29.Google Scholar
  37. Liebhart, K. 2016: A Multi-Method Approach to the Comparative Analysis of Anti-Pluralistic Politics. In German Perspectives on Right-Wing Extremism. Challenges for Comparative Analysis, eds. Kiess, J., O. Decker and E. Brähler, 61–80. London-New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Mackinger, C. 2018. FPÖ-NÖ: Udo Landbauer warb für Buch mit NS-Liedgut. January 25, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  39. Mareš, M. 2006. Transnational Networks of Extreme Right Parties in East Central Europe: Stimuli and Limits of Cross-Border Cooperation (PDF). Brno, Czech Republic: Masaryk University. P. 11–13.Google Scholar
  40. McGann, A. J. and H. Kitschelt 2005. The Radical Right in the Alps. Party Politic. 11 (2): 147–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meret, S. and M. Happold. 2000. Fourteen against One: The EU Member States’ Response to Freedom Party Participation in the Austrian Government. International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 49 (4): 953–963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moffitt, B. 2016. The Global Rise of Populism. Performances, Political Style, and Representation. Stanford: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mudde, C. 2016. Liberalism need not be on the retreat—rightwing populism is beatable. The Guardian. December 7, 2016. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  44. Mudde, C., ed. 2014. Political Extremism. 4 Vol. London et al.: SAGE.Google Scholar
  45. Mudde, C. 2007. Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mudde, C. and C.R. Kaltwasser. 2018. Studying Populism in Comparative Perspective: Reflections on the Contemporary and Future Research Agenda. Comparative Political Studies 00(0) 2018. 1–27. Scholar
  47. Müller, J-W. 2016. What is Populism? University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  48. Murphy, F. 2017. “Win or Lose, Austrian Far Right’s Views Have Entered Government”. July 16, 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  49. Oltermann, P. 2016. Austrian Far-Right Party’s Triumph in Presidential Poll Could Spell Turmoil. The Guardian. April 25, 2016.Google Scholar
  50. Oltermann, P. 2017. Sebastian Kurz’s audacious gamble to lead Austria pays off. October 10, 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  51. Oltermann, P. 2018a. Austria’s far-right fraternities brace for protests at annual ball. January 16, 2018. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  52. Oltermann, P. 2018b: Can Europe’s new xenophobes reshape the continent? February 3, 2018. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  53. Oltermann, P. 2019: Austria’s ‘Ibiza scandal’: what happened and why does it matter? May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  54. ORF 2019. Wahl EU 2019. Österreich-Ergebnisse. May 27, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  55. Pelinka, A. 2013. Right-Wing Populism. Concept and Typology. In Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse, eds. Wodak, R. et al. 3–22. London-New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  56. Priester, K. 2017. Rechter und Linker Populismus. Annäherungen an ein Chamäleon. Frankfurt/M; New York: Campus.Google Scholar
  57. Rauscher, H. 2018. Eine kurze Geschichte der FPÖ. Der Standard. January 26, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  58. Riedlsperger, M. 1998. The Freedom Party of Austria: From Protest to Radical Right Populism. In The new politics of the Right: neo-Populist parties and movements in established democracies, eds. H.-G. Betz and St. Immerfall. 27–43. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  59. Rosenberger, S. and B. Sauer. 2008. Islam im öffentlichen Raum. Debatten und Regulationen in Europa. Eine Einführung. Austrian Journal of Political Science. Vol. 37(3): 387–399.Google Scholar
  60. Schultheis, E. 2017. A New Right-Wing Movement Rises in Austria. October 16, 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  61. SOS Mitmensch. 2018. Unterstützung von Antisemitismus durch die FPÖ. Erhebung für die Jahre 2008 bis 2017. Vienna. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  62. Stanley, B. 2008. The Thin Ideology of Populism’. Journal of Political Ideologies, 13 (1): 95–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. The Economist. 2017. Vienna calling. A new coalition in Austria brings the far right in from the cold. December 19, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  64. Traynor, I. 2008. Austria in crisis as far right win 29% of vote. The Guardian. September 9, 2008.Google Scholar
  65. Troianovski, A. 2016. European Right Gets Boost From Austrian Freedom Party Victory. The Wall Street Journal. April 25, 2016.Google Scholar
  66. Wodak, R. 2014. Re-inventing scapegoats – right-wing populism across Europe.—right-wing-populism-across-europe/38279304. April 1, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  67. Wodak, R. 2015. The Politics of Fear: What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean. Los Angeles et al: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wodak, R., M. Khosravinik and B. Mral, eds.2013. Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse. London-New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  69. Wodak, R. and A. Pelinka 2002. The Haider Phenomenon in Austria. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PolitikwissenschaftUniversität WienViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations