An Open Letter to Michael Spindelegger

With the current immigration policy of the ÖVP, a loyal supporter loses faith

Opinion | Wolfgang Lacom | July / August 2011

Dear Vice Chancellor,

The policy on immigration and asylum policy that your party’s interior ministers have been following for years, which not only allows, but even requires the deportation of children who are well-integrated in Austria or may even have been born here, is the reason that it is no longer possible for me to cast my vote to the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP).

Your election as party leader and Vice Chancellor has given me hope of a change a course towards a more positive approach to immigration, a hope that has been reinforced by statements you have made in that direction. Accordingly, I can only welcome the creation of a Department for Integration, although I greatly regret that it has been attached to the Interior Ministry, thereby retaining the emphasis on threat and security. Indeed, initial statements by the Interior Minister suggest as much.

With an only partial incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into our constitution, and the recently exacerbated foreigners’ laws, which continues to sanction holding children in custody pending deportation, indicate that you, too, incline towards right-wing populism when it comes to immigration. Albeit, election results show clearly who are the experts and who the dilettantes at this game.

I am no longer under any illusion of getting anywhere with politicians through reasoned argument; nonetheless, I take the liberty of sending you two documents which reveal how a certain group of people views the sort of politics that you have been pursuing. This group may not have any importance for the ÖVP, but it may be of great relevance to Austria’s future.

As a representative of Austria’s artists and its creative industries, I am sending you a letter which the internationally renowned pianist Paul Gulda wrote to the former Interior Minister. In it, he expresses his disappointment about the kind of politics pursued by your party and your coalition partner.

Further, I enclose the article entitled "A Little Less Torture – the amendments to the new Austrian Foreigners Law are far from benign", written by Editor in Chief Dardis McNamee and published in the March 2011 edition of The Vienna Review, which contains the telling phrase, "What many foreigners feel today is they are no longer welcome in Austria. This is true of the skilled as well as the unskilled." This newspaper is published by the Vienna Journalism Institute of America’s prestigious Webster University, and reaches about 20,000 readers through its print and online editions. Though the unwanted asylum seekers and refugees are not among the readers, the newspaper is gaining increasing currency among highly qualified individuals and students from around the world, notably from developed countries. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, you are better placed than I to judge the kind of impression such an article leaves in this circle of people, and how it will be received in their countries of origin.


Yours sincerely, 

Dr. Wolfgang Lacom

ARC Seibersdorf research



Translated by Dardis McNamee

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