Austria: Protests against FPÖ's presence in the government




The arrival of the extreme right wing party to one of the European countries has marked a before and after in the politics of the continent. The alliance established between the Austrian Popular Party (ÖPV) of Sebastián Kurz and the right of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) was agreed on at the end of the year in a programmed guide that was the flag of the current government.

Among the most consensual decisions of the bipartisan project is the commitment to reduction of taxes and a strong audit of public spending. On the issue of migration, it is important to highlight that the Austrian right party has marked its strong opposition to illegal immigration and has rejected the arrival of refugees through the quota system established by the European Union.

In this context, protests against the right-wing coalition led by the new Austrian president, Sebastian Kurz, took place again this past weekend. The protests, organized by leftist movements, young students, and the "Grannies against the Right" peacefully mobilized around 20 thousand people on Saturday, January 13th.

The protesters seek to oppose in particular the presence of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) in the new government, because of its ultra-right inclinations and its strongly restrictive policy towards immigrants. Although they claim to have left behind their Nazi origins, FPÖ members still tend to be categorized as sexists, believe in antisemitism, and racists.

In fact, one of the first to speak on Saturday was Benjamin Abtan, president of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, who called the members of the Freedom Party populists enemies of democracy and indicated that they are a extremely radical group that does not deserve to sit down with the rest of European authorities.

This last comment makes reference to one of the main points of the protest on Saturday: Austria will be the head of the European Union from the second half of this year and the members of the opposition do not consider that the right coalition should represent the interests of the country against the rest of Europe, especially considering that the ultra-right FPÖ holds 6 of the 14 ministries of the Kurz government.

The demonstrations on Saturday were also encouraged by the unfortunate comments made last week by the Minister of the Interior of the FPÖ, Herbert Kickl, who suggested 'concentrating' the asylees in specific spaces. The term used by Kickl is the reason for much of the new criticism of the party, as it was immediately associated with the Nazi concentration camps. However, party figures such as Norbert Hofer have come out to defend Kickl, arguing that his comments were not malicious and were based on a basic respect for the Human Rights of the asylees.

The mandate of Sebastian Kurz and the coalition of the right (ÖVP-FPÖ) in Austria is just beginning and has already given much to talk about. The presence of the FPÖ in the new government has generated strong criticism, although it was the third most voted force during the elections of October 2017.



Latin American Post | Laura Delgado

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto



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