Kiyoko Metzler, AFP, September 1, 2023
Austria’s far-right Freedom Party — which is expected to win next year’s elections — has sparked fury with a “frightening” video glorifying fascist thinkers and making knowing nods to the country’s Nazi past.
The two-minute promo — which splices an extremist conspiracy theory that white Europeans are being replaced by migrants with images of Notre Dame in Paris in flames — was made by the party’s youth wing.
But the Freedom Party’s hardline leader Herbert Kickl sprang to its defence, calling the video “great”.
“I criticise the whole pseudo furore,” he said, insisting that the video, on the party’s official YouTube channel, showed “young people… with a positive approach to their homeland and nature.”
“Under former party leaders, the FPOe set itself apart” from the extreme right, political scientist Peter Filzmaier told AFP, who said the video evoked “memories of the darkest times in Austrian history and right-wing extremism.
“The video is frightening because parts of the FPOe youth wing obviously think like the extremist Identitarian movement, which is under surveillance by Austria’s domestic intelligence agency (DSN),” he added.
The video has been reported to prosecutors with the DSN also investigating, according to media reports.
The FPOe has seen its support soar to around 30 percent in the latest polls — up from 16 percent in 2019 — buoyed by discontent over inflation, migration and the war in Ukraine.
The controversial youth wing video, which went online on Sunday, blamed Europe’s politicians for “mass migration, wokeism, rainbow (LGBTQ) terror and Islamisation”.
With images of ranks of soldiers and people in traditional Alpine costumes, it presents the FPOe as “Austria’s last chance” to “resist the left-liberal indoctrination” and “turn things around”.
It also features images of fascist guru figures, including the French Nazi collaborator Pierre Drieu la Rochelle and Japanese nationalist Yukio Mishima as well as Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar.