Austria: FPÖ Leader Strache Forced to Resign – Right-Wing Government in Crisis!


Don’t hope for new elections but organize active resistance!


Statement of the RKO BEFREIUNG, Austrian section of the RCIT, 18.5.2019




1.             The right-wing populist and racist party FPÖ suffered a major crisis in the last 48 hours. Their leader Heinz-Christian Strache, leading the party since 14 years, has been secretly filmed when he, together with the leader of the party’s parliamentary group Johann Gudenus, had a meeting with a allegedly Russian investor. They talked for seven hours about investment opportunities in Austria, while consuming a lot of alcohol (and may be other substances too). The substance of these talks is so explosive that both Strache as well as Gudenus had to resign from all political positions in the government as well as the party. Strache also had to apologize in his resignation speech to his wife for his behaviour towards the attractive Russian woman. Both Strache as well as the FPÖ are well-known for their sexism.


2.             The video reveals, in addition to insults against the current Prime Minister and leader of the conservative ÖVP Sebastian Kurz, proposals how to give party donations to the FPÖ via a “non-profit institution”. Strache explains in this video that several millionaires in Austria like Heidi Horten, René Benko and Gaston Glock or big corporations like Novomatic are secretly spending such donations in this way to the FPÖ as well as to the ÖVP. In return, these capitalists receive public contracts and tax reliefs. In addition, Strache offers the Russian investor to buy the right-wing Kronen-Zeitung (the daily paper with the largest circulation in Austria). She should then replace the personal of the paper and make sure that it strongly advocates exclusively the FPÖ. He refers to Hungary’s Viktor Orban as a model. Furthermore, Strache offers to buy up STRABAG, a large construction corporation which has supported the small bourgeois-liberal party NEOs. In return, the allegedly Russian investor should receive public contracts.


3.             However, the FPÖ is in crisis not only because of this video. In the last few months various party officials have become known for their relations with the right-wing extremist Identitäre Movement. In some cases there have been donations for the Identitäre. A few days ago, the Austrian Neo-Nazi leader Gottfried Küssel, who was recently released from prison, confirmed the right-wing extremist past of Strache. He said that behind closed doors, Strache posed as a fanatic national socialist and that he might reveal more details in the future.


4.             Faced with such a crisis of the FPÖ, it is hardly surprising that the bourgeois conservative party ÖVP is calling for new elections. Sebastian Kurz has established a Bonapartist type of leadership in the ÖVP and pushed for a collation with the FPÖ. It is in his interest to publicly distance himself now from the FPÖ. Kurz also calculates that his party will receive significant gains at new elections. If the FPÖ gets a weak result, Kurz might hope to form again a coalition with the FPÖ with a much better relation of forces for his party (something similar happened in 2002). Such a scenario would be pretty favourable for the ÖVP.


5.             It is hardly surprising that the social democrats (SPÖ) and also many left-wing groups are pushing for new elections. However, what is necessary now is not a new round of bourgeois elections. Since the last elections, the social democratic party has moved even further to the right. The Austrian workers movement is dominated by a massively bourgeoisified leadership. Sectors both of the trade union leadership as well as of the SPÖ (the dominant bourgeois workers party in Austria) have looked for cooperation with the FPÖ. In the Austrian province Burgenland as well as in Linz, the social democrats have even formed a coalition government with the FPÖ. Furthermore, they have supported the attacks against our Muslim brothers and sisters (e.g. the so-called “Islam Law” and the headscarf ban). If there would be elections today, no party would be eligible.


6.             The correct perspective in the present situation is the building of a systematic resistance movement. The “Thursday demonstrations” (weekly anti-government demonstrations, Ed.) so far have been very small and very petty-bourgeois in their orientation. What we need is a proletarian protest movement which organizes political strikes in work places and educational centers. We need a movement in which the oppressed layers – youth, women, migrants and our Muslim brothers and sisters – play a central role. Such a movement must be directed against the capitalist government policy as well as against racism and Islamophobia. At the same time it is crucial to build a New Workers Party. The RKO BEFREIUNG, Austrian section of the RCIT, calls all progressive forces to focus on building such a party of resistance against neoliberal austerity policy and racism. We say: such a New Workers Party should be based on a revolutionary program in order to organize resistance consistently. Such a program could give the orientation to smash the capitalist system and to build a socialist society.


7.             The RKO BEFREIUNG calls all critical activists inside the SPÖ and their affiliated organizations (trade union faction, youth organization, university student organization, etc.) to organize a consistent faction struggle. The goal must be to build a left wing which establishes close cooperation with all progressive forces in the working class and all oppressed outside of the SPÖ. Ultimately it will be necessary to organize a split in order to fight against the bourgeoisified SPÖ leadership which in some cases even collaborates with the FPÖ. The experiences of such a faction struggle could be valuable for the construction of a multi-national and anti-imperialist New Workers Party. We must not permit that the crisis of the FPÖ and the right-wing government results only in new elections. Instead of orientating towards new elections, we must build together active RESISTANCE!