The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), currently the most popular party in the country, is using increasingly strong rhetoric in its calls to end sanctions on Russia in order to save the country’s economy and manufacturing sector.
In a statement released on the party’s website, the party labeled “Russia sanctions (the) root of all evil.” Although many may balk at such a claim, the party is betting that their strong stance continues to resonate with Austrian voters, who are dealing with soaring inflation, an influx of migrants, and the ongoing economic crisis.
“The sanctions have led to an increase in energy prices. The other prices — whether for food or housing — have followed suit. And nothing will change in this situation as long as these Russia sanctions are in place. They are the price driver for people and the economy in our country,” said FPÖ deputy chairman Dagmar Belakowitschalso, who “vehemently” demanded that Russia sanctions finally be lifted.
The party indicates that even limited sanctions in the past have cost Europe dearly. In a study of the economic impact of the sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Austrian Institute for Economic Research (WIFO) concluded that EU countries had suffered €30 billion in economic damage, with €1 billion in damage to the Austrian economy.
In a sign of how dire the stakes are this time around, one current estimate found that Russia sanctions cost Germany’s economy €175 billion in 2022.
The FPÖ’s latest call for ending Russia sanctions comes after the party called for a nationwide referendum on the issue, arguing that the Austrian population should decide whether sanctions should be abolished.
The FPÖ’s deputy chairman also pointed out that the government raked in record tax revenue in 2022, amounting to €105.2 billion, which was €9.5 billion more than in 2021.
Belakowitsch said it is clear: “The big winner of the crisis is the state, the big loser is the domestic population, which continues to suffer from a massive wave of inflation. As long as there are no tax cuts or cuts in energy, electricity, fuel and food, nothing will change.”
The FPÖ is demanding tax cuts and increased support for the population, which will in part be funded by cheaper energy and goods prices once Austria removes sanctions on Russia.