Prominent Austrians call for ban on right-wing congress in Linz

More than 60 prominent Austrians have signed an open letter calling on the governor of Upper Austria, Josef Pühringer (ÖVP), to ban a controversial right-wing congress which is scheduled to take place in the state at the end of this month.

Prominent Austrians call for ban on right-wing congress in Linz
View over Linz. Photo: Thomas Ledl/Wikimedia

The signatories of the letter include Nobel-Prize winning author Elfriede Jelinek, as well as notable writers, actors, political scientists and concentration camp survivors, the Mauthausen Committee and the Upper Austrian network against racism and right-wing extremism.

The congress – called ‘Defenders of Europe’ – is due to take place on October 28th and 29th in Linz. On its website it describes itself as “an exhibition of the patriotic and conservative work being done in the journalistic, cultural and political sphere” and describes its mission as being “against the ethnocultural repression of European people.”

It's advertised on the Freedom Party (FPÖ) linked website, and one of its “high-profile speakers” is FPÖ General Secretary Herbert Kickl.

After the Social Democrats and Greens said the event should not take place in Linz, Pühringer asked Austrian intelligence officers from the federal anti-terrorism unit to assess the controversial event and whether it poses any danger. They said that “despite the possible participation of individuals from the extreme-right, there is no information that would lead to a prosecution or any information which could lead to charges being brought in advance of the event”.

Anti-fascists have called for a counter-demonstration to take place on October 29th.



Austria’s Nehammer formally elected party leader in unanimous vote

The Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer was formally elected leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) on Saturday.

Austria's Nehammer formally elected party leader in unanimous vote

The ÖVP has governed at the federal level in an alliance with the Greens since early 2020 and, at a special federal party conference on Saturday, 100 percent of the delegates voted for the Austrian Chancellor (who has been in office for just over five months now) to be their leader.

READ ALSO: PROFILE: Who is Karl Nehammer, Austria’s new chancellor?

Nehammer’s predecessor Sebastian Kurz had resigned as Chancellor and ÖVP chairman in October 2021 following investigations into suspected corruption. Since then, Nehammer had held the party chairmanship on an interim basis. 

Sebastian Kurz has since completely retired from politics and now works for American investor and billionaire Peter Thiel, who has close ties to former US President Donald Trump.

Prior to the vote, Nehammer gave a speech promoting his election as party chairman: “We are the first servants of this country, and with your help, I will also become the federal party chairman of the People’s Party,” he said.

The heads of the ÖVP traditionally tend to get high results in their first election as chairman. Kurz was elected party leader in 2017 with 98.7 percent of the vote. However, there has never been a 100 percent result in a first-time election until now.