Sunday 14 January 2018

Mass march opposes Conservative-fascist coalition in Austria

Reuters Tens of thousands of anti-fascists marched in Vienna against the Austrian Conservative/fascist FPO, coalition government, yesterday. The day was brilliant and inspiring and comes a few weeks after the new government came to office.



  People came from across Austria to say there should be ‘no place for Nazis in government’. As one said, ‘It was impressive, it was mixed, it was diverse’. Trade unionists and students participated, alongside a bloc of Afghan and Syrian refugees, who led the demonstration. ‘Grannies against the Right’ made for one of several, lively contingents.


Estimates vary, but up to 70,000 attended, many more than when the Tory/fascist lash up was announced, earlier this year. It is a sign of hope that so many came and wish to stop the fascist FPO. Marchers called for a boycott of FPO ministers by other European governments and the shunning of Austria when it takes up the  European Union presidency, later, this year.



The FPO claim it has left its founders’ Nazi past behind and denounces anti-Semitism, but no one was fooled yesterday and accused the party of still being racist, sexist and anti-Semitic. “It is very important that Austrian civil society is mobilised. The FPO are not just populists – they are an enemy of democracy,” said Benjamin Abtan, president of the European Grassroots Anti-Racist Movement, who was one of many speakers.



“People don’t understand that the FPO is not a regular party…they should not have a seat at the top tables in Europe”, he added. In many’s mind were words from Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the FPO, who last week said asylum seekers should be “concentrated” in special ‘centres’ to enable the authorities to process their applications swiftly. The language was reminiscent of Nazi-era concentration camps and many called out the FPO for such fascist intent.


Already arguments are surfacing with the FPO, for instance, over, cuts in unemployment benefits. Some FPO supporters are against them. This week, the social affairs minister, Hartinger – Klein responsible for implementing the cuts clashed with Strache, the FPO’s leader. The latter has over ruled the former, which has angered some at the base of the FPO.


Austrian anti fascists have an honourable tradition of mass resistance to the far right, eg, when the FPO has previously been in coalition in the 1980s with the Labour-type SPO and in the 2000s with the OVP. Another big demonstration is to take place on January 26 when the FPO have their ‘annual ball’.

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