Wednesday

28th Jun 2017

Focus

PR man heads Austria's Freedom Party election list

  • Austrian flags: Vlimsky said black African, Turkish and Arab people are 'kulturfern' (Photo: Dmitry Shakin)

A 47-year-old PR consultant has taken over at the top of the EU election list for Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) after his predecessor, Andreas Moelzer, stepped down over racist remarks.

Harald Vilimsky, who is a confidante of FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache, wants to focus on national issues but does not advocate Austria's withdrawal from the EU.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

While he is clearly against Turkish membership of the EU and has socially conservative views (he does not think same-sex couples should be able to adopt children), one of his main bugbears as far as the EU is concerned is the proposed EU-US free-trade agreement.

He said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a "prime example that the current state of the EU only serves corporations". Austria, Europe's centre for speciality meats, may now have to face "hormone-treated meat and chlorine-washed chicken", he said.

Vilimsky, who sits on the subcommittee of EU-affairs in Austria's parliament, is more nuanced on the single currency. He argues that only if the economy needs something "drastic" and the euro is not functioning properly should the country return to the Schilling.

Vilimsky started his political life in the early 1990s. His career took off in 2004 when he became secretary of the Viennese party faction.

Just one year later he was manager of the electoral campaign, coining the controversial term "negative immigration". In 2006 he became the Freedom Party’s secretary general in the National Assembly.

While Vilimsky has no political roots in the right-wing German Burschenschaften like Strache and Moelzer, he speaks very highly of some fraternity members, calling them "men of honour".

He has been known for some controversial comments once stating that black African, Turkish and Arab people are "kulturfern" ["distant from culture"]. He later revised the statement saying "It's a fact that African cultures are geographically and culturally remote. That doesn't mean that they are uncultured."

He has also made himself known among other right-wing networks in Europe. In 2008 and 2009 Vilimsky visited the "Anti-Islam Congress" by the extreme right-wing movement Pro Cologne Citizen's Movement [Bürgerbewegung pro Köln].

Vilimsky is intent on the FPOe winning over 20 percent of the vote, a goal he still considers possible despite the outrage sparked by Moelzer's comments which included calling the EU a "conglomerate of Negroes" and comparing it to the Third Reich.

Several national opinion polls suggest the Freedom Party could score between 23 and 27 percent in the EU elections and take first or second place, ahead of the centre-right People's Party.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  2. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  3. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  5. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  6. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  7. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  8. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  9. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  10. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  11. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million