Anti-fascists in Austria have vowed to resist the new right wing coalition government of the Tories and fascists.
Around 10,000 people protested in the capital Vienna on Monday as the Tory People’s Party (OVP) and fascist Freedom Party (FPO) was sworn in. Chants of “Nazis out of parliament” rang out in the main square.
The new “Blue-Black” government will push through more austerity, free market reforms and a racist clampdown on refugees and Muslims. One policy includes “sanctions”, such as slashing social support, for migrants who are not “integrating into Austrian culture”.
Tory chancellor Sebastian Kurz ran one of the most racist campaigns in Austrian history, accepting much of the fascists’ programme.
FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache is now vice chancellor, the equivalent of deputy prime minister.
And fascists will control key ministries, including the interior and defence.
Nikolai, a student who was on the demonstration in Vienna, spoke to the Left Turn Now newspaper. “I am frightened at how close the Freedom Party is to National Socialist ideology,” he said.
“The Nazi regime was unique in its cruelty—we should never let that happen again.”
The FPO entering government does not mean that Austria is now a fascist state where all democratic rights are smashed. It has been in coalition before with the Labour-type SPO in the 1980s and the OVP in the 2000s before.
But it comes from a profound shift to the right in the wake of the refugee crisis in Europe. And the FPO’s gains were driven by the OVP running a racist campaign that copied and normalised its policies.
This will also bolster the fascists’ attempts to build a street movement that can smash trade unions and the left. Their ministries, which run the police and security forces, will give them more opportunities to push through a racist clampdown.
But there is possibility of fighting back.
Jakob, a student, told Left Turn Now that the size of the demonstration should be a warning to the new government. “There were so many friends here who never go to demonstrations,” he said.
“I did not think there would be so many of us in one morning.”
And Austria has seen large demonstrations against racism and in solidarity with Muslims and refugees in recent years. The right had worse results in the October election in areas where anti-racists have been active.
Anti-fascists are now planning a mass demonstration on 13 January.