Europe’s far-right factions to meet in Vienna

Left-wingers are expected to take to the streets in Vienna today (Fri) to demonstrate against a summit of far-right parties from all over Europe which is taking place in the Austrian capital.Andreas Mölzer, who represents the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) in the European Parliament (EP), said representatives of the Sweden Democrats, Italy’s Lega Nord, the Danish People’s Party and other factions will attend the two-day conference which starts today.The MEP said the French National Front, Hungary’s fascist Jobbik party and the Bulgarian Ataka party will not attend the summit – but stressed that the conference’s relationship with these movements was “good and friendly”.Mölzer – once a close ally of late FPÖ boss Jörg Haider – explained he deliberately invited only “established” parties which are or have been part of federal governments. The right-winger stressed the target was to further improve the parties’ network across the continent.Asked which topics will dominate the non-public gathering, Mölzer named the “resistance against Europe’s ‘Islamisation’” and “democracy deficits” like the commencement of the Treaty of Lisbon.Mölzer said federal FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache will also take part in the meeting. The controversial right-wing leader caused outcry by campaigning against “immigrants who are unwilling to integrate” ahead of the 10 October Vienna city parliament election in which the FPÖ bagged 25.8 per cent (2005: 14.8 per cent).The FPÖ Vienna’s far-right election campaign came just months after Strache explained the plan was to reposition the party in the political centre to attract new voters.The right-wing party was in turmoil after MP Barbara Rosenkranz garnered only 15 per cent in the presidential election last April, while incumbent President Heinz Fischer claimed 79 percentage points.The FPÖ, however, recovered during the past two months. It reached 10.7 per cent in the recent provincial election of Styria (2005: 4.6 per cent) before overtaking the People’s Party (ÖVP) to claim second place in Vienna earlier this month.The party’s improving performance in various ballots has fuelled public debate about whether its political rivals are in the wrong for possibly denying problems with the integration of foreigners.Political analysts have pointed out that the FPÖ focused solely on crime and immigration as its leading subjects in recent elections in contrast to the time when Haider was in charge. The late right-wing icon is still considered to have been one of the most versatile politicians in Europe regarding the use of media power for his own purposes. Strache’s rhetorical skills are, meanwhile, arguably weaker than those of his predecessor.The current FPÖ boss has nevertheless strong support among many young people. Analysis has also revealed that the group of elderly people supporting the FPÖ is growing as well.Meanwhile, the archdiocese of Vienna has announced it considered banning any kind of political campaigning from St. Stephen’s Square in the city centre. This statement was made in a reaction to the FP֒s decision to use spotlights to illuminate the world-famous cathedral with its signature blue colour just days ahead of the Vienna vote.