LINKS writes to us about Austrian politics

We established a relationship with LINKS, an Austrian party based in Vienna, last year. In the following lines, it will give us an insight into the political situation in Austria.

An anti-capitalist perspective on the political situation in Austria

After a corruption scandal in 2019, which led to the resignation of Sebastian Kurz, his former minister of the interior stepped up as chancellor. Since then (December 2021) Karl Nehammer leads a coalition formed between his conservative party (ÖVP) and the green party.

This government is openly unbalanced as the conservative party received a much larger percentage of votes and consequently a greater share of ministers. Therefore, most of the challenges regarding climate change, migration or inflation are seen from a purely capitalist perspective: green energy and electric cars are seen as the solution for the climate crisis, while restrictive policies on migration are based on the logic of the “need” for skilled workers (especially in the care taking sector). Human rights don’t count at all in this respect, many migrants are not even allowed to apply for asylum. Also the issue of inflation is just seen from a superficial perspective as the actions to fight against it are mainly based on single payments, but not on a change of tax policies (e.g. the introduction of wealth taxes). All of this is obviously supported by a green party, which is not even able to get a lead in its focus topic of climate change; the long-promised law on limiting CO2 emissions still hasn’t even been passed!

Summing up, Austrian politics is as stuck and “lost” as in many European countries. This also counts for the opposition, which is either internally divided like the social democrats (SPÖ) or focused on nationalism and xenophobia like the so-called freedom party (FPÖ). Recently, following Austrian politics from a leftist perspective has been even more challenging than the years before: the situation has become that specifically bad that leftist citizens have to be thankful for the fight against corruption by state institutions and that a relatively well-organised neoliberal party (NEOS) at times opposes the government, especially when it comes to the topic of corruption and the rule of law.

The LINKS party celebrated the International Women’s Day in the streets.

One of the smaller parts of the opposition is represented by the alliance LINKS/KPÖ, two leftist parties, which ran together at the Vienna city elections in 2020 and are now represented in 15 district assemblies. KPÖ (the Communist Party of Austria) was founded in 1918 and has chapters all over Austria. Their biggest success, which has been echoed also in European media, is KPÖ’s victory at the communal elections in Graz (the regional capital of Styria), where the communist party now holds the mayor’s office. LINKS is a much younger formation, founded in 2020, with anti-racist, anti- sexist, and ecological positions that sometimes differ from the KPÖ’s more traditional approaches. However, both parties strongly cooperate on the strategic level and consider joint election campaigns in 2024 and 2025, especially at the next Vienna city elections.

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