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Rightward tilt in Austrian politics draws thousands to protest

Europe
13.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - Thousands turned out in central Vienna Saturday to protest the country‘s new right-leaning government.

Organizers say the new coalition between Chancellor Sebastian Kurz‘s People‘s Party (OeVP) and Heinz-Christian Strache‘s right-wing Freedom Party (FPOe) has racist, far-right extremist and neo-fascist tendencies.

"Our country will not be taken over by these new fascists," shouted Michael Genner, with the Platform for Humane Asylum Policy, during the protest.

Marchers are on their way to the city‘s Heroe‘s Square (Heldenplatz). Police say the event has gone peacefully so far. Other groups joining the protest include the Offensive Against the Right and the Platform of Radical Leftists.

Kurz‘s centre-right OeVP has been in government for years, usually in coalition with the centre-left Social Democratic Party. But tensions between those parties last year made a new coalition impossible.

The FPOe was last in government from 2000-05, a period which saw many Western countries worried about Austria‘s rightward tilt. This time, the international reaction was muted, but left-leaning Austrians have vowed to fight the new government.

During his party‘s traditional new year‘s gathering, Strache said the new government would put an emphasis on stopping illegal migrants. He attacked the "complete failure of those politically responsible" for a 2015 surge in migration, that saw thousands arrive and stay in Austria.

Kurz promised during his campaign to put controls on migration, a stance that has become harder since his coalition with Strache‘s party.

 

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