Austrian Nazi makes a mark

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Last month’s first round presidential election in Austria showed a dangerous shift to the right. Norbert Hofer of the fascist Freedom Party came top with 36 percent of the vote. In second place was the Green Party candidate with 20 percent.

There will be a run-off election between the two to decide the presidency on 22 May. Although the president is mainly a ceremonial role, Hofer has already claimed that he would dissolve parliament before the next parliamentary elections in 2018.

The two traditionally dominant parties — the Social Democrats and the People’s Party — managed just 22 percent between them, a historic low.

The Freedom Party has exploited the refugee issue to build support — feeding off the mainstream parties’ creation of a racist atmosphere. Since the presidential election the Austrian parliament has voted through a new law further restricting refugees’ ability to enter the country. The police will be empowered to reject refugees at the border, and the government will be able to declare a state of emergency in times of “irregular migration” during which they will send all refugees arriving at the border back to the country in which they first arrived.

Austrian anti-racists have called a mass protest against the Freedom Party on 19 May.