Sozialistische Linkspartei, the Socialist Party's sister party in Austria, marching to defend refugees, photo Sozialistische Linkspartei

Sozialistische Linkspartei, the Socialist Party’s sister party in Austria, marching to defend refugees, photo Sozialistische Linkspartei   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Christian Bunke, Sozialistische Linkspartei (Socialist Left Party – CWI Austria)

The crammed-full U6 tube line in Vienna resembled Saturday shopping a couple of weeks before Christmas. But it was 13 January and shopping was the last thing on most people’s minds.

They came in their tens of thousands to protest against the new far-right coalition government formed by the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).

This government has only been in power for a few weeks but it has already managed to horrify an increasing number of people with its fully fledged austerity combined with state-sponsored racism and authoritarianism.


Some of the measures planned by government leaders include introducing a 12-hour working day, attacking abortion rights, cuts to education and the public sector, attacks on unemployment benefits, speeding up privatisation, attacking health and safety laws, sweeping new repressive rights for the police, and measures aimed at making life more difficult for migrants and asylum seekers. The list is seemingly endless.

The main mobilising slogan used for the 13 January demonstration was “against racism and austerity.” An estimate of over 50,000 people participating is no exaggeration.

Many voted for this government because they were sick of how society is run for the benefit of the corrupt elite. They were taken in by promises made by ÖVP and FPÖ leaders that they would do things differently to the previous Social Democrat-ÖVP coalition.

In some ways, this also represents both the desire and the potential for a new workers’ party. No such alternative was on offer during the elections…