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The Conservative Without Qualities

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PRINCETON – The satirist Karl Kraus observed about his native Austria in 1899: “When the constitution is violated, the people just yawn.” How upset Austrians really were last week when Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was accused of corruption is unclear. But the charges – and the public leaks of vulgar chats involving Kurz and his colleagues – were serious enough to prompt his always somewhat unlikely coalition partner, the Greens, to bring him down.

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    Kurz’s fall is widely seen as having consequences beyond Austria: his approach had been touted as a model for center-right parties across Europe, especially in Germany, where the Christian Democrats are currently in disarray after their dramatic election loss last month. But “Kurzism” has been all about style and tactics, not new political ideas or, for that matter, a sustainable alliance of social........

    © Project Syndicate

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