Extreme right in Austrian government

This music video from Britain says about itself:

April 28, 2012

This is the brand new 7″ record by ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER´S BARNSTORMER.

The A-side gives us the studio version of the live classic “Haider Die!“. A great cover of Simon & Garfunkel´s classic “The Boxer”. The lyrics are about Austrian right-wing politician Joerg Haider who died in an accident. …remember´: “Nazis Shouldn´t Drive” (M.D.C.)

By Markus Salzmann:

Right-wing extremists enter government in Austria

18 December 2017

The conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) agreed on a coalition deal and presented the government’s programme and ministers on Saturday. The government is to be sworn in today.

It will be the most right-wing government in Vienna since the Austro-fascist state under Kurt Schuschnigg, who governed Austria as a dictator from 1934 until the Anschluss with Hitler’s Germany in 1938. The FPÖ is a member of the “Europe of Nations and Freedom” group within the European parliament, which includes France’s Front National, the Dutch PVV of Geert Wilders, Italy’s Lega Nord and other right-wing extremist parties.

Sebastian Kurz, the incoming chancellor, will be Europe’s youngest head of government at the age of 31. Over the past year, he took power within the ÖVP in a coup and has dictated the party’s course ever since. During the election campaign, he imitated the FPÖ’s anti-refugee agitation and law-and-order slogans.

While Kurz and the head of the Chancellor’s Office, Gernot Blümel, filled the seven ÖVP ministries with lesser-known individuals, characterised above all by their loyalty to Kurz, the six FPÖ ministers control a number of key posts. As many newspapers pointed out, the FPÖ controls “all forces in uniform.” For the first time since 1945, one party holds the posts of interior minister, foreign minister and defence minister.

The deputy chancellor will be FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache. He has enjoyed a long career in various far-right groups. Because of his participation in military sports with people later convicted as right-wing extremists, a complaint was filed against him due to a suspicion of National Socialist activities. He was even arrested at a neo-Nazi event in Germany 30 years ago.

FPÖ General Secretary Herbert Kickl will be interior minister. The former speech writer for Jörg Haider became notorious for election slogans such as “Home not Islam” and “Western lands in Christian hands.” When the FPÖ split in 2005, he broke with Haider and joined the more right-wing faction under Strache. Last year, he participated in a conference of the so-called Defenders of Europe in Linz, which brought together New Right and right-wing extremist ideologists. Kickl recently complained about the “uncontrolled immigration from non-EU states as well as the totally ill-considered opening of the labour market for Eastern European states.”

Mario Kunasek will be minister of defence. The 41-year-old junior officer is a long-time leading figure within the FPÖ who maintains close ties to the neo-Nazi camp. He has been documented as having connections with the Identity Movement and the Party of the People, an openly fascist party with neo-Nazis prepared to commit violence. In January 2016, he called on his Facebook page for asylum seekers to be blocked from entering the country.

FPÖ politician Norbert Hofer, who lost the 2016 presidential election to the Green Alexander Van der Bellen, will be minister for infrastructure. Hofer, who likes to portray himself publicly as a moderate, joined a right-wing extremist student league at the age of 37 as an honorary member.

Karin Kneissl, who is a non-party figure but was nominated by the FPÖ, is to serve as foreign minister. … Kneissl cut her teeth for the FPÖ at the height of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015. Kneissl claimed that the refugees, most of whom had fled wars in Iraq and Syria, were largely economic refugees.

Justice Minister Josef Moser is also a former FPÖ member. The non-affiliated jurist ran in the election on the Sebastian Kurz List and was nominated by the ÖVP. Moser was recruited to the FPÖ in 1991 by Haider and led his office for a year. From 1992 to 2002, he was parliamentary group leader of the FPÖ. In 2004, he switched to the Austrian Administrative Court, where he repeatedly appeared in public to call for drastic budget cuts.

The new government’s program corresponds to its personnel. A major military build-up at home and abroad, a wide-ranging crackdown on refugees, social attacks and tax cuts are the core pillars of the government’s programme, “Together. For our Austria.”

The police will be significantly strengthened; 2,100 officers and 2,000 trainee posts will be created. The powers of the police and intelligence agencies will be expanded. The surveillance of internet communications will be broadened substantially. The plans for a military build-up are formulated in extremely vague terms. Reference is made in this area to the “appropriate, legal, organisational and budgetary equipping of the army.” However, already in the grand coalition when he served as foreign minister, Kurz was an advocate of significantly expanding the army.

The government is planning major attacks on refugees and foreigners. It intends to introduce stricter controls on Islamic kindergartens and private schools, and have the option to shut them down as a last resort.

Asylum seekers will be forced to hand over all of their money when they make an application so that it can be used to cover the costs of the procedure. The authorities will be given access to asylum seekers’ mobile telephones so that officials can confirm travel routes and identities by means of personal information and social media accounts. Asylum seekers will only receive benefits in kind and no money. In addition, the government wants to reduce the time-frame for filing an appeal during an asylum procedure.

According to the government’s programme, doctors’ confidentiality obligation will be relaxed if the illness of an asylum seeker is “relevant to primary care.” Given that primary care also includes health insurance, this could have a wide-ranging meaning and serve as a pretext to abolish democratic rights.

Under the heading “More justice in the building of social housing”, the programme plans the regular “adjustment of rent interest” (i.e., rent increases) in social housing, on which many people in major cities, particularly Vienna, rely. The goal is the elimination of the building of social housing as a whole.

The grand coalition has attempted for more than 10 years to cut pensions. Kurz and Strache are now firmly determined to enforce this. To this end, existing pension privileges will be eliminated and the retirement age repeatedly increased.

In line with Germany’s Agenda 2010, the government will change the reasonable job regulations for the unemployed. This will result, for example, in skilled unemployed workers in Vienna being forced into the tourist industry in Tirol for low wages.

With flexibility of the labour time law, protections for employees will finally be broken. The confirmed expansion of the workday to 12 hours is a first step to this end. The reintroduction of student fees to strengthen government finances will once again turn studying into a privilege for the rich. Additional cost-cutting will follow, since a so-called debt brake is to be added to the constitution.

When in 2000 then ÖVP leader Wolfgang Schüssel formed the first government with the FPÖ, led at the time by Haider, mass protests occurred in Austria and sanctions were imposed in Europe. Demonstrations have once again been called in Vienna, but the EU did not utter a syllable of criticism, even though the Kurz-Strache government is much further to the right than the Schüssel-Haider government.

In a country where the ruling class resorted to dictatorship in the early 1930s and largely backed the Anschluss with Nazi Germany in 1938, the shadow of the past is once again present. …

This was made all the easier because there are a number of right-wing governments in Europe. It is well known that Strache would like to make Austria the fifth member of the Visegrad group of states made up of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, all of which are governed by nationalist, right-wing regimes. …

While Kurz and Strache appeared before the cameras in Vienna, Europe’s right-wing extremists met in nearby Prague. Both Geert Wilders and Marine le Pen were in attendance. They praised the FPÖ’s entry into the government as “historic.” Le Pen spoke of “tremendous news,” while Wilders declared it to be an “excellent result.”

5 thoughts on “Extreme right in Austrian government

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  4. Monday, March 12, 2018

    History: Anschluss: ‘opening the way to nazi domination of eastern Europe’

    JOHN ELLISON looks back to March 12 1938, when German forces crossed the border into Austria

    The Anschluss, the “joining” of Austria with Germany, took place with the invasion of German troops on March 12 1938 and its formal announcement the following day in Vienna.

    It was less of a “joining” than an annexation of Austria by Germany, following the resignation of Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, assisted by Austrian nazis who sold out Austria from within.

    It meant, as well as an horrific offensive against the Jewish community of Austria, a calculated advance towards much larger international aggression.

    US journalist William Shirer, much later author of the widely read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, confided to his diary in Vienna on March 12: “The worst has happened! Schuschnigg is out. The nazis are in … Hitler has broken a dozen solemn promises, pledges, treaties. And Austria is finished! … Gone. Done to death in the brief moment of an afternoon.”

    That day the British Communist Party issued a statement which included: “Unless fascist aggression is stopped now, fascist aeroplanes will be over Prague.”

    The most graphic first-hand account of the Vienna events may be that of Eric Gedye in his passionately written Fallen Bastions, published by the Left Book Club in 1939. Daily Telegraph correspondent Gedye was in the Vienna press office when the Anschluss announcement was made, but Hitler had not yet shown his face in Austria’s capital.

    As Gedye explained, the nazi leader’s arrival had been held up by mechanical problems experienced by tanks and other vehicles. When he arrived on March 14, he spoke only briefly from a balcony. The next day he told a huge admiring crowd that Austria would provide a buffer against the threat from the east. In reality, the threat was to the east and from the nazis.

    Descending from the press office to a courtyard, Gedye hoped to get to see Hitler, together with Austrian staff officers who were for the first time wearing swastika armlets. Instead, a nazi commander told them to back up into the building or be fired on.

    A Reuters colleague managed to telephone a headline sentence from the press office. “I am here with the entire foreign press imprisoned in the Chancellery under threat of being fired on by German troops if anyone attempts to leave.”

    But nazi confidence was not unbounded. The nazi ambassador in Prague sought assurances from the Czechs they would not react to the Anschluss by mobilising their own forces and a promise was given that nazi troops would not approach the Czech frontier. Gedye was soon expelled from Austria, while ex-chancellor Schuschnigg was in nazi custody until 1945.

    Immediate consequences of the nazification of Austria included the wholesale dismissal of Jews from their employment and the confiscation of Jewish-owned shops.

    Much private plundering took place, as well as plundering for the Reich, and the Austrian national bank’s gold reserves were soon on their way to the Reichsbank in Berlin.

    Abhorrent behaviour towards the Jews of Vienna was observed with disgust by Gedye, recording: “With the full approval and support of the police … the Austrian Jews were everywhere to be seen under brown-shirted guards scrubbing pavements and cleaning lavatory bowls with their bare hands to make a German holiday.” Many suicides by Jews followed.

    In summer 1936, communist Palme Dutt — editor of the Daily Worker 1936-8 — had, in his own Left Book Club classic World Politics, considered the international position as it was then, just before the outbreak of the Spanish war.

    First looking back at the Versailles treaty and the advent of Hitler in power in 1933, he summarised: “What had been sternly denied to parliamentary democratic Germany, which was weak, defenceless and sincerely wanting peace, was now poured out with eager hands to nazi Germany, which was armed, aggressive and openly preparing war.”

    He itemised six stages in which other countries, including Britain, had facilitated the nazi offensive “to ever closer readiness for war.”

    Agreement for Germany to rearm significantly was followed by the German-Polish treaty of January 1934 (directed against the Soviet Union), the nazi rising in Austria in July 1934 (directed from Germany), the re-establishment of conscription and overthrowing of Versailles military controls in 1935, the Anglo-German naval agreement of June 1935, and the remilitarisation of the Rhineland in March 1936.

    “Where will the next blow fall?” asked Dutt. “The expectation has been widely expressed that the next blow may fall in Austria or Czechoslovakia.”

    It proved to be Spain, where the generals’ revolt of July 1936 was followed by substantial nazi and Italian fascist armed support as well as by the arrival in Spain of communists and socialists ready to give their lives against fascism and for the democratic republic.

    Days before the Anschluss, on March 8, Soviet ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky weighed up Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain coolly in his diary.

    “Here, he is often called the ‘accountant of politics.’ He views the whole world primarily through the prism of dividends and exchange quotations,” Maisky wrote.

    “At the same time, Chamberlain is very obstinate and insistent and, once an idea has lodged in his head, he will defend it until he is blue in the face.

    “A particularly important trait of Chamberlain’s character is his highly developed ‘class consciousness’ … He believes in capitalism devoutly … This makes him a vivid and self-confident representative of bourgeois class-consciousness.

    “Indeed, Chamberlain is a consummate reactionary, with a sharply defined anti-Soviet position.”

    Chamberlain’s response to the Anschluss was encapsulated in a private letter of March 13, which illustrated his fixed idea that he could do deals with Hitler and yet keep Britain safe.

    “Heaven knows, I don’t want to get back to alliances, but, if Germany continues to behave as she has done lately, she may drive us to it.

    “If we can avoid another coup in Czechoslovakia, which ought to be feasible, it may be possible for Europe to settle down again.”

    Dutt had suggested in World Politics how the nazi offensive could be checked. “If the existing Franco-Soviet pact were reinforced by a corresponding Anglo-Soviet pact (equally open to other signatories), if British policy could be transformed by mass pressure from its existing diplomatic support of nazi Germany and refusal of all commitments for peace outside Western Europe, to unity with the Soviet Union, France, the Little Entente, the Balkan Entente (ie Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania) and the smaller countries for the collective maintenance of peace against aggression, then a strong barrier could be built in the immediate present situation.”

    All this was as true in March 1938, as it had been two years earlier, but Chamberlain, backed by most Conservative MPs, was desperate to avoid any alliance with the Soviet Union against Hitler and was pleased by the prospect of a Francisco Franco victory in the Spanish war.

    On March 9, Franco’s army, supported by nearly a thousand German and Italian aircraft, and many Italian soldiers, opened a major offensive on the Aragon front. It drove for the Mediterranean to cut the republican area in two, while Barcelona was bombed mercilessly.

    Nevertheless, despite severe losses, the British Battalion and other foreign volunteer units were fighting on. John Peet, former guardsman and volunteer — also future editor of the weekly German Democratic Report — wrote home on March 31 that “thousands of people who have been working in the rearguard after being wounded or sick are volunteering to go back to the front again.”

    Historian Richard Overy commented, in his The Road to War, that the Anschluss, unimpeded by international reaction, “opened the way to the German domination of eastern Europe. The almost complete lack of resistance to union with Austria made a settlement of the Czech question an opportunity that could not be resisted.”

    In the Commons on March 14, intransigent imperialist and dissident Tory Winston Churchill was out of tune with Chamberlain, commenting: “What is there ridiculous about collective security? The only thing that is ridiculous about it is that we have not got it.”

    Today’s international situation, in which Britain’s government continues to appease and participate in US imperialism conducted via market domination, unholy collaborations and subsidies, cynical human rights excuses and war, war, war — with accidental or intended nuclear conflict easily imaginable — is as troubling as that in March 1938.



  5. Pingback: Ex-Austrian President Waldheim, new film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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