Protests against government in Vienna
Around 20,000 people took part in a demonstration against the right-wing conservative government in Vienna. They accuse the coalition formed in December between the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) of racist and neo-fascist tendencies. Prior to the demonstration FPÖ Interior Minister Herbert Kickl announced plans to keep asylum seekers "concentrated" at refugee centres. How much of an impact can the protests have?
Can Kurz keep the FPÖ in check?
The Austrians are worried that their new government could slide further to the right, the Tages-Anzeiger explains:
“On migration policy the positions of the ÖVP and FPÖ are almost identical. In many other areas, however, the ÖVP may very soon be confronted with some flighty positions from the FPÖ. Then we will see whether young Chancellor Kurz has the strength to keep a distance - or whether, as on migration, he lets the right-wing populists set the course. The demonstration was organised by just a few little groups. Both the SPÖ and other large organisations like the trade unions kept a very low profile. The intellectuals and the creatives are also lying low. But the demonstrators represent a broad segment of the population. So the anxiety is growing tangibly, also in Austria.”
Ball is in the opposition's court
The opposition must win the support of the citizens on the street, warns Der Standard:
“Will citizens who don't just stay at home posting hate messages but brave the cold, wet weather to demonstrate for hours on end be taken seriously as future voters and represented by established political movements like the SPÖ? Or will the SPÖ start eyeing a coalition with the ÖVP once more? This should be focussed on in good time. Because the words written on a great big inflatable sausage floating over the demonstration were true: 'Everything comes to an end.' This coalition, too.”