Tuesday 19 December 2017

Austrian Tory – Fascist coalition meets determined anti fascist opposition


Appallingly, the fascist Freedom Party (FPO) is to govern with the conservative People’s Party in Austria. This makes the country the sole one in Europe to have the far right in government. The FPO  has secured the key posts of foreign, interior and defence in Austria’s new coalition government for its nominees.


The (FPO) party leader Strache will be vice-chancellor. The new foreign minister will be Middle East writer Karin Kneissl, not a Freedom Party member but Kneissl was nominated by them. Kurz’s People Party won 32% of the vote in October’s elections, securing the largest number of seats (62) in the 183-seat national council. The Freedom Party came third, securing 26% of the vote and 51 seats.



Fascists such as the Front National’s Marine Le Pen, and the Dutch far right, Islamophobe, Geert Wilders, were among the far right, who wished the FPO well. (Le Pen was with other such leaders, in the Czech Republic, making racist plans for their respective parties in 2018).  Shamefully, Theresa May sent her “warm congratulations” to Kurz.


However, anti-fascists in Austria are already resisting the new coalition. Around 10,000 people protested in the capital Vienna on Monday as the Tory People’s Party (OVP) and FPO were sworn in. “Nazis out of parliament” said many placards. Many were angry that the FPO have been politically “normalised”. One protestor said, ” Refugees should be welcome, not the FPO, who, with the OVP, are a serious threat in our country”.



The new government will enact more austerity measures, free market reforms and a racist clampdown on refugees and Muslims. There is a disgusting  “sanctions” policy, such as slashing social support, for migrants who are not “integrating into Austrian culture”.



Tory chancellor Kurz ran one of the most racist campaigns in Austrian history, accepting much of the fascists’ programme. Many on the demonstration yesterday in Austria, said they were deeply concerned at how the FPO has been allowed to enter into the mainstream.


There are precedents for the FPO power sharing. It governed with the Labour-type SPO in the 1980s and the OVP in the 2000s. Up to 300,000 marched in February 2000, around the Heldenplatz, where  Hitler addressed around 250,000 Austrians in 1938 on the occasion of the Anschluss, the Nazi annexation of Austria.


Thousands of schoolchildren had demonstrated in the run up to the huge march, that February. Today’s situation arises from  a deep move to the right in the wake of the refugee crisis in Europe. Moreover, the FPO’s gains were driven by the OVP running a racist campaign that mirrored  FPO ideas.


This will encourage fascist in and around the FPO, who wish to build a street movement against the left. FPO’s running of ministries, such as the police and security forces, will help facilitate a racist crackdown on refugees and migrants, and the left.



Anti fascists though, remain defiant. As one said of Monday’s anti government protest,  “There were so many friends here who never go to demonstrations. I did not think there would be so many of us in one morning.” Austria has also had sizable demonstrations against racism and in solidarity with Muslims and refugees, recently.


Austrian anti-fascists are now planning a mass demonstration on 13 January. All anti fascists will wish them well.

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