Majority of Austrians support total ban on new refugees

Migrant center in Austria. (MTI/EPA-ANP/Vincent Jannink)
By Thomas Brooke
5 Min Read

A majority of Austrians would support the government adopting a zero asylum limit and rejecting all asylum applications for the foreseeable future, according to recent polling.

In a survey conducted by the Unique Research Institute for the Heute newspaper, 56 percent of all respondents agreed in principle with a proposal that would see Austria no longer take in any refugees compared with 37 percent who disagreed with the suggestion.

The most common response from those polled was “strongly agree” with 36 percent, followed by “somewhat agree” with 20 percent. Comparatively, 19 percent “tended to disagree” with the proposal, and just 18 percent “strongly disagreed.”

Austria’s ability to cope with rising asylum applications has been the subject of political debate across the country over the past few weeks, fueled further by the recent remarks of Tyrolean Social Democrats (SPÖ) leader Georg Dornauer, who publicly questioned “whether the upper asylum limit should not be zero for the coming years” in a national newspaper.

Dornauer was scolded by his left-wing party leader Andreas Babler on the weekend, who called the comment “politically stupid” and “unthinkable,” leading his party colleague to retract the statement.

However, the Unique Research Institute polling creates a conundrum for the Social Democrats (SPÖ), showing that 45 percent of its own voters agree with the move and presumably do not consider such a proposal to be “stupid.”

The plans are, unsurprisingly, supported overwhelmingly by voters of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) who currently top national polls ahead of legislative elections later this year — a total of 87 percent of those who back the party support the proposal.

Similarly, a majority of the co-governing Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) wants to see zero asylum at 58 percent while most voters of the Greens and the liberal NEOS are against the suggestion.

“The attitude towards the zero asylum limit runs along the classic party camps. While the voters of the FPÖ and ÖVP support this proposal, NEOS and Green voters reject this approach,” said pollster Peter Hajek.

“The SPÖ, on the other hand, is divided, which doesn’t make it easy for Babler and Co. to position themselves in the election campaign,” he added.

The criminal behavior of some asylum seekers granted refugee status in Austria has made headline news across the country in recent days.

Last week, Vienna was hit with a bloodbath after an Afghan migrant butchered three prostitutes inside a Thai massage parlor that also served as an illegal brothel. The suspect, who beheaded two of his victims, reportedly told the authorities that he had “read in the Quran that I should engage in jihad,” telling officers that “prostitutes are under the guise of Satan.”

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In another distressing story from the Austrian capital that made national news, 17 young people between the ages of 13 and 18, many of whom were of a migrant background, were arrested in Vienna last Thursday accused of conducting a harrowing long-term ordeal of sexual abuse against a 12-year-old girl.

Authorities seized the suspected male rape gang after the victim filed a complaint claiming to have been forced by her boyfriend to have sex with his friends before being passed around “like a trophy” for over a year.

The gang, including boys from Syria, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Serbia, had reportedly filmed the abuse and threatened to make it go viral on social media if the schoolgirl ever reported them to the authorities.

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They were subsequently released after just one day in custody as police continued their investigation, leading the victim’s family to express their concern for the safety of the girl to a national German newspaper.

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