Questioning the Basic Values – Austria and Jörg Haider
Published in: András Jakab / Dimitry Kochenov (eds.), The Enforcement of EU Law and Values: Ensuring Member States’ Compliance (2017) Oxford University Press, 436–455
22 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2021 Last revised: 7 Feb 2022
Date Written: March 9, 2017
The EU 14’s measures against Austria in 2000 are an interesting episode in the history of European integration. From today’s perspective we get the impression that the whole response from the EU Member States to the Austrian situation was a failure and history today shows that Jörg Haider never threatened democracy and the rule of law in Austria. This article argues against this understanding by not only retracing the core part of the story but also extending the perspectives on the year 2000 to the past and the future. In the first part, the historical dimension of Haider’s Freedom Party and the political relevance of the developments in the year 2000 are analysed from an Austrian perspective. Moreover, the EU 14’s measures and the effects on European integration are considered. The article argues that the EU did not learn effectively from the measures and failed to develop proper institutional and procedural mechanism to deal with the questioning of basic values by a Member State.
In a second part, the article looks critically back on the participation of the Freedom Party in the Austrian government and the effects of Jörg Haider to Rule of Law and democracy in Austria. In contrast to the overall impression that the Freedom party’s participation in the government had no negative effects, the article argues that Haider’s approach to ethnic minorities in Carinthia significantly threatened the Rule of Law in Austria and the Carinthian model of corruption still threatens Austrian democracy and the federal state budget today. The EU 14’s scepticism about governmental participation can be justified in retrospect. The EU and its Member States, however, did not monitor the Austrian situation after the developments in 2000 and thus failed to acknowledge the real questioning of basic values by Jörg Haider. In conclusion, it is necessary for us to acknowledge the different layers of the narrative on the EU 14’s measures. The full picture enables us to re-evaluate the EU 14’s measures and to draw conclusions for future challenges to European integration by problematic political and legal developments in the Member States.
Keywords: Austria, Constitutional Law, Populism, Democracy, Human Rights, Public Law, Politics, Rule of Law, European Union, Government, Constitutional Court, Authoritarianism
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation