‘No to Nationalism’ rallies in Germany and Austria before EU vote

22 May 2019

by Dave Stockton

Tens of thousands of people have mobilised in cities across Germany and Austria in opposition to the “surge” in right-wing populism, nationalism and anti-migrant racism promoted by  parties like the Alternative für Deutschland, AfD, and the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ, just days before the European Parliament elections.

Right wing nationalists, in power in Italy, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, are busy implementing anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies. Recent polls show far-right parties like Italy’s Lega, Germany’s AfD, France’s National Rally, RN and, in Hungary, Viktor Orban’s Fidesz, could become the largest single block in the European Parliament.

These parties and their leaders have been encouraged and supported by the US President, Donald Trump, who is due to pay a state visit to Britain in June. His sinister Alt-right advisor Steve Bannon is trying to build a far right network in Europe, called The Movement. Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party have links to all these reactionary forces that foment hatred against Muslims and in many cases resort to antisemitism, too.

Fighting the Right

The DPA news agency reported that more than 20,000 people marched in Berlin and 14,000 in Frankfurt under the banner “One Europe for Everyone: Your Voice Against Nationalism” with a further 10,000 in both Munich and Hamburg. Cologne topped the list with organisers estimating that 45,000 people took part. Across the country, organisers reported that some 150,000 took part, with NGO’s playing a central role in mobilising, alongside the Greens, the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party.

Several thousand also protested in the Austrian capital, Vienna. There, the right have suffered a setback after FPÖ leader and vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned after a video revealed him having drinks with a woman who claimed to be a wealthy Russian offering to buy a 50 percent stake in Austria’s Kronen-Zeitung newspaper and switch its editorial position to support for the Freedom Party. In the video, Strache responded that he could award her public contracts, and that he aimed to “build a media landscape like Viktor Orban”.

These developments, alongside the Brexit crisis in the UK and the one million who marched in London for a People’s Vote in March, show that the rise of the racist and populist right can be resisted and thrown back. But it needs even greater international coordination. We should be organising to create a Europe-wide gathering of all those forces fighting neoliberal austerity, racism and the rise of the right. Something like the European Forum in Florence in 2002, which launched an antiwar movement of millions.

Opposition to the nationalist right must also take up the struggle against the neoliberal “reformers” like Macron and the fake internationalists who rule the EU, and show that it is the radical left, the militant trade unionists, the youth fighting climate catastrophe, above all the working class, who are capable of putting an end to austerity and the dictatorship of the banks and big business, whose ruthlessness was witnessed in Greece in 2015. We need not a retreat into the delusion of “national sovereignty” but a forward march towards a Socialist United States of Europe.

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