Following the intensification of the refugees and migrants influx at the Brenner Pass in recent days, Austria has decided that starting next Tuesday, May 24, it will deploy 80 police officers along the Italian-Austrian border. At first, Italy’s promise of greater controls had appeased Austrians, who had begun to build a fence to make controls; now, with the arrival of groups of refugees trying to cross the border mostly by foot, the situation seems to have radically changed. Austrian minister of the interior Wolfgang Sobotka would have assured the President of Tyrol Günther Platter that starting on Tuesday, at the Brenner Pass there will be 80 more policemen to carry out controls in compliance with current Schengen agreements limits.
“We have great respect for the electoral campaigns of other countries, but especially great respect for the truth,” says the Deputy Minister, delegated to immigration, Dominic Manzione. According to him, the statements of the President of Tyrol, Platter, about the promises Italy would not have kept with regard to controlling migrants exactly at the Brenner Pass, “are not supported by any data and that it is a pity that they come from an authority that agreed with our intervention strategy.” As to the flows at the border – he explains –, we have mixed patrols that control the trains. We have sent 50 more men to strengthen them. The number of people who have been stopped is very modest. 14 people, five of whom were asylum seekers in other countries, 4 expelled from Italy, two children, one arrested, 2 readmitted by Austria. Thus, the latter would be the only ones to have crossed the border illegally.”
This decision was taken on the eve of the second ballot that might lead to the election of a far-right president. “I will not accept Italy’s distribution of tranquilizers pills on allegedly controls, while the number of illegal entries is growing again,” said Günther Platter after having apparently agreed on strengthening the Brenner Pass with Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka.
After the first ballot, Hofer, candidate of the Freedom Party (FPÖ), had obtained 35% of votes, on which he built his campaign for his head-to-head with Alexander Van der Bellen, the opponent, who followed him with 21% of the votes. According to estimates, the first one has an advantage. The decision Austrians have to make today mirrors what is happening in the European Union countries. If Hofer, who legitimizes a far-right party from an institutional point of view were to win, it would be the first time such a movement obtains presidency in an EU country. Conversely, if Van der Bellen wins, it will mean that Austrians have decided to halt the advance of the anti-system movement, but to do so they will have voted for a green. The two historic popular parties plummeted in the first round: 11.3% the Social Democrat candidate, 11.1% that of the People’s Party (ÖVP). The right wing is pushing its way through the opponents and the traditional parties of the post-war democratic tradition seem to be unable to contrast it