Austrian Conservatives and Greens’ new coalition agrees to extend school headscarf ban
Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) and Werner Kogler (Greens) reached an agreement, which aims to become climate-neutral by 2040 and includes and stricter controls on migration.
VIENNA · 06 JANUARY 2020 · 18:45 CET
The head of the centre-right People’s Party (ÖVP) , Sebastian Kurz, and the leader of the Green Party, Werner Kogler, presented the newly formed coalition government’s program in Vienna on Wednesday.
The two leaders reached agreement after weeks of negotiations following September’s elections. The ÖVP had been in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), until a scandal toppled the government in May.
The ÖVP came first in the country's general election in September, winning in every federal state except the capital, Vienna. Meanwhile, the Green Party is entering national government for the first time.
Kurz’s party will have 10 ministers in the new government, including foreign policy, defence, finance and home affairs.
The Green party will hold four portfolios: environment, justice, social affairs, sports and culture. Kogler will become vice-chancellor.
KURZ: “THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS”
Speaking at a joint press conference on Thursday, Kurz said they “deliberately brought together the best of both worlds, and so it is possible both for the Greens to keep their central election promises and for us”.
He told ORF television that he is “very optimistic that this government cooperation will last for five years, and I will try to contribute everything to making that possible”.
“The future is made of courage. Yes but also of the force of will, of a plan. It makes a difference whether Kurz governs with the Greens or the FPO”, Kogler said at the Green’s congress on Saturday, where the coalition was approved by the party.
BANNING HEADSCARF IN SCHOOLS FOR GIRLS UP TO 14
The coalition deal includes banning the headscarf in schools for girls up to age 14, an extension of the garment ban that applies until age 10, approved by lawmakers last May.
The text of the law refers to any “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head”. However, back in May, representatives of the ÖVP made it clear that, despite its wide description, the law is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.
CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2040
Under the agreement, Austria aims to become carbon neutral by 2040, a decade earlier than an EU-wide target, and to produce 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 .
Kurz said “Austria would be a forerunner in protecting the climate”, and Kogler pointed out that “Flying will slightly become more expensive, and in the medium term also taking the train will become cheaper”.
STRICTER MIGRATION POLICIES
The agreement also revives a plan for “precautionary detention” of potentially dangerous asylum seekers even if those individuals have not committed a crime.
Earlier this year, the Kurz government proposed detaining asylum seekers deemed to pose a risk to the public without a court order, a plan that would require a constitutional amendment.