Vienna, the new capital of the Far Right in EuropeJosefina Martínez
After several months of negotiations, a new government was formed in Austria as a result of the pact between the conservative ÖVP party and the right-wing Islamophobic party FPÖ. In the new executive, the Far Right is left with seven members of parliament, compared to nine appointed by the conservative party of the new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz. The FPÖ will control the ministries of Interior, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Infrastructures, which means a significant political triumph for formation and a new leap for the forces of the Far Right in Europe.
The last elections marked a clear turn to the right and opened the way for negotiations to form a government, after the rupture of the "grand coalition" between conservatives and social democrats that had been maintained for three legislatures. The conservatives of the ÖVP obtained first palce with 31.47% of the vote, the Social Democrats attained 26.86% and the FPÖ finished with 25.97%.
The leader of the FPÖ, Heinz-Christian Strache, is the new vice chancellor of Austria, the second most important position in the executive. This politician has been president of the FPÖ since 2005 and in his youth he participated in neo-Nazi groups, with whom he continues to maintain political relations. During the election campaign, Strache used xenophobic and Islamophobic slogans such as "Vienna should not become Istanbul", "Work instead of Immigration" or "At home instead of at Islam".
The new Austrian government has already pronounced that one of its first measures will be a sharp cut in the subsidy for refugees, which will be cut by more than half, to 365 Euros, at the same time that deportations will be escalated and borders will be hardened. Austria is approaching the so-called "Visegrad Group", formed by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, which have established a hard closure of the borders and reject the proposal of "distribution of refugees" established by the EU.
THEY HARVEST VOTES AMONG WORKERS AND RUINED MIDDLE CLASSES
Another of the measures announced by the new government has already generated strong tensions with Italy, as the new chancellor promised to deliver Austrian passports to the German speaking minority of the Alto Adige (a region that Austrian nationalists consider their own). This, in turn, provokes the reaction of the Italian nationalists, a few months after their own elections.
Vienna thus became the new capital of the European Far Right, after a year in which several xenophobic and eurosceptic formations achieved quite significant electoral results.
Alternative for Germany entered the Reichstag for the first time, as the third place force, and will become the leading opposition force if a new grand coalition government takes shape between the conservatives of Angela Merkel and the social-democratic neoliberals of the SPD. In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front got through to the second round, a great growth that could only be contained by the reissue of a "republican block" that facilitated the triumph of the neoliberal Macron. In The Netherlands, the Ultra-Right Freedom Party, rose from 5 to 20 seats in the March elections. In Italy, where elections will be held in the spring of 2018, the Far Right also aspire to obtain a good result and be a key piece in the formation of government. In Poland, the PiS government party is leaning more and more towards the hard and xenophobic Right. In this country, 60,000 neo-Nazis marched in early November, the largest mobilisation of its kind in recent years. In Hungary, the government of conservative Viktor Orbán has radicalized a nationalist discourse and closed borders against refugees.
The nationalist and Far Right currents deploy a racist ideology against immigrants, whom they blame for the "social and moral collapse" of their countries.
At the same time, they maintain a critical discourse with the "elites" of the traditional parties, channelling on the Right the discontent with the ageing European project and with the "Europeanist" political caste that has applied neoliberal plans in recent years. These are undercurrents that reap votes among sectors of workers and ruined middle classes, as well as among wealthy sectors, and defend neoliberal capitalist programmes with some sovereign elements, with nuances as the case may be.
THE REFORMIST LEFT PROVIDES NO ALTERNATIVES
In 2017, Europe fortified the growth of the Far Right. Whereas, in 2000, before the arrival of the FPÖ in government (in a coalition similar to the one that became official this week), the heads of state made demagogic statements against and even applied some symbolic sanctions for a few months, this time the new conservative chancellor who heads a government with the Far Right was immediately greeted by Merkel, Juncker and Tusk. The growth of xenophobic undercurrents in almost all countries has pushed the conservative and social democratic parties to tilt their agendas even further to the right, so as not to lose votes.
As a balance of this itinerary, we need to point out finally that, faced with such growth of xenophobic nationalism, the reformist Left provides no realistic alternatives. The experience of the capitulation of Syriza in Greece and the adaptation to the regime that Podemos shows in Spain, only bring disenchantment and new frustrations.
Workers' organisations that fight against job insecurity and labour exploitation, collectives defending the rights of immigrants and refugees, women's movements and LGBT against male violence and homophobia, anti-racist movements and anti-fascist, face the challenge of rebuilding a social movement of internationalist and anti-capitalist struggle, independent of the state and the parties of the regime, against the Europe of capital.