Lux­ury home: Petrol­head en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist: Far-right party in gov­ern­ment:

The Week - - News -


Saudi Ara­bia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, has been iden­ti­fied as the owner of a 50,000 square foot Ver­sailles-style man­sion out­side Paris, which was de­scribed as the world’s most ex­pen­sive home when it sold for s275m in 2015. The pur­chaser was not named at the time, but New York Times in­ves­ti­ga­tors claim that it is owned by var­i­ous shell com­pa­nies ul­ti­mately con­trolled by the prince. If true, the rev­e­la­tion will em­bar­rass the 32-year-old, who has preached aus­ter­ity at home while lead­ing a cor­rup­tion crack­down on Saudi mil­lion­aires. His other re­cent pur­chases re­port­edly in­clude a $500m yacht bought from a Rus­sian busi­ness­man.


The French en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, Ni­co­las Hu­lot, has been forced to ad­mit that he owns no fewer than six cars, as well as a mo­tor­bike and a mo­tor­boat. Hu­lot, a for­mer TV pre­sen­ter who was well known for his green ac­tivism be­fore he en­tered pol­i­tics, re­cently an­nounced a ban on the sale of all petrol and diesel ve­hi­cles by 2040. How­ever, at the week­end it was re­vealed – thanks to new rules on fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure among cabi­net min­is­ters – that his own col­lec­tion in­cludes a BMW, a 30-year-old 2CV, a VW camper van and a Land Rover (for his hol­i­day home in Cor­sica). In to­tal, his as­sets are worth s7.2m, mak­ing him the sec­ond-rich­est cabi­net min­is­ter. In re­sponse to the dis­clo­sures, Hu­lot in­sisted that he trav­elled in elec­tric ve­hi­cles 95% of the time. “I am all for trans­parency, but I am not for voyeurism or hair-split­ting,” he said.


Aus­tria’s youth­ful new chan­cel­lor, Se­bas­tian Kurz, has agreed to gov­ern in coali­tion with the far-right Free­dom Party of Aus­tria (FPÖ) – mak­ing Aus­tria the only coun­try in western Europe with a far-right pres­ence in gov­ern­ment. Kurz’s Peo­ple’s Party (ÖVP) took 32% of the vote in Oc­to­ber’s elec­tion. The FPÖ, led by Heinz-chris­tian Stra­che (pic­tured right, with Kurz), took 26%. Un­der the agree­ment struck last week­end, Stra­che be­comes vice-chan­cel­lor; the FPÖ will hold key min­istries in­clud­ing de­fence; and the gov­ern­ment will adopt a range of hard-line poli­cies on asy­lum seek­ers and im­mi­gra­tion, in­clud­ing the im­po­si­tion of fi­nan­cial sanc­tions on im­mi­grants who fail to “in­te­grate” with main­stream so­ci­ety.

About 5,500 peo­ple joined a street protest in Vi­enna on Mon­day, when the new gov­ern­ment was sworn in by Aus­tria’s pres­i­dent, Alexan­der Van der Bellen: he had pre­vi­ously said he would not swear in an FPÖ gov­ern­ment. The protests were tiny, how­ever, com­pared with those that took place when the FPÖ – founded in the 1950s by for­mer Nazis – last joined the gov­ern­ment: in 2000, 150,000 peo­ple took to the streets; there was out­rage across the EU; and Is­rael re­called its am­bas­sador. That coali­tion lasted two years and sup­port for the FPÖ slumped at the next elec­tion.

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