Hello Europe Podcast Podcast

Austria: towards the prohibition of identity movements?

Austria wonders about a possible ban on identity movements in the country. The debate is revived in the middle of the election campaign because of the participation of a far-right elected to a polemical parade last weekend.

While early parliamentary elections are to be held at the end of the month, identity movements are once again at the center of attention in Austria. For Ursula Stenzel, an FPÖ of Vienna, took part and gave a speech last weekend at a parade organized by an association related to identity, a parade that commemorated the battle that ended the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683. His presence has been strongly criticized by almost all political parties, conservatives and social democrats have even asked for his resignation.

But Ursula Stenzel replied that she did not know that identity would be present at this rally. Hard to believe for its opponents but not for the FPÖ: the far-right party has indeed chosen to publicly support its elected.

Another embarrassing affair for the far-right party

With less than three weeks of legislative elections, the FPÖ is trying to smooth out its image. The party wants to appear less sulphurous to show the Conservatives that it has changed and so convince them to govern again together after the elections. This connection with identity resurfaced at the wrong time for the FPÖ, especially since he had already embarrassed the party a few months ago.

Indeed, last March, an investigation was opened against the head of the Austrian identities, Martin Sellner because it had received a donation from Brenton Tarrant, the author of the attack against two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand. Now, at that time, the FPÖ was in power and the many links of the party with the identities had been brought to light. The young conservative Sebastian Kurz, then chancellor, had publicly summoned his partner to distance himself from this movement. But the participation this weekend of a far-right elected to a parade of identities seems to show that this is not the case.

Sebastian Kurz wants to ban the Austrian identity movement

The Conservatives want to table a proposal in parliament to amend the law on associations, giving the authorities the opportunity to dissolve an association that propagates an ideology that is extremist or hostile to the state.

They hope to get the support of the Social Democratic Party. But is a pure and simple ban only possible? Some lawyers question the Austrian press, including Thomas Höhne, a specialist on this issue, which explains that to prohibit an association, it requires facts that must be evaluated according to criminal law criteria. If opinion became a criterion, it could be dangerous according to him. The FPÖ, which is against this ban, immediately pointed out the risk of a " dictatorship of opinion ". Even the social democratic mayor of Vienna has expressed doubts. Not sure therefore that a ban as proposed by the Conservatives is possible.

On the same subject