by Natascha Strobl and Julian Bruns
On April 14th, activists of the Identitäre Bewegung Österreich (Identitarian Movement Austria) entered the stage during a performance of Elfriede Jelinek’s play “Die Schutzbefohlenen” (The Wards) in the main hall of the University of Vienna. Some of the 30 persons showed a banner soaked in artificial blood that said: “Ihr Heuchler!” (You hypocrites!). Actors – among them refugees and children – were shocked. It was the intervention of some antifascist audience members that ended the disruption. This media-attracting act ranks among several incidents caused by New Right actors which have received increasing attention in the German and Austrian public. From the early 2000s on, the New Right established new specialized forms of media and institutions – and increasingly took to the streets. The Identitarians are the spearhead of this new strategic development. At first glance, this might look like a contradiction since the very definition of New Right is the one of a movement which has shifted from action to intellectual debate. But this is only one side of the story.
by Bernhard Weidinger
Since around 1990, the state of the Austrian far right has been characterized by the strength of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ – Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, more precisely translated as Freedomite Party of Austria) and the relative weakness of extra-parliamentarian far right activism. Far from a mere coincidence, these two features are to be understood as closely linked: the FPÖ’s electoral successes have brought far right causes and talking points unto the political center stage on a national level, given them ample media coverage and made street militancy increasingly pointless. Insofar, the Austrian far right spectrum could – at least until recently – be described as a photographic negative of the situation in Germany: successful party politics, weak bottom-up mobilizations and a comparatively low incidence of street violence. Currently, however, the long held hopes of German right-wingers for a party both in the mold, and strength, of the FPÖ are apparently being fulfilled by the emergence of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Conversely, both legal and illegal street activism have been on the rise in Austria in recent years, particularly since the start of the asylum crisis in Europe. Numerous violent incidents were reported in 2015, including a minimum of 25 attacks on housing facilities for asylum seekers.