Friday

29th Jul 2016

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.

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. Dialogue Platform
  2. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  3. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  4. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  5. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  6. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  7. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  8. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  10. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  11. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  12. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company