The rise in populism is something that has gained notable momentum in the last couple decades. However is this something that we should be more weary of?
Take Austria for example, who has held a coalition government since 2017. The coalition is made up of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the conservative People’s Party. The Freedom party, a populist part lead by Heinz-Christian Strache has promised Austrians a “clean pro-Euopean outlook.” However their campaign was run on promoting anti-immigration and Eurosceptic agendas.
In June 2017, The Social Democrats lifted a self-imposing ban on forming a government coalition that lasted 30 years, due to the government recognizing the difficulty of forming a government without a party’s ability to secure more than 26% of the vote.
Why should we be concerned with this party? Well, the FPÖ has a problematic history. The party has very evident fascist past, specifically one with Nazi Roots. While the party has since tried to distance itself from this as well as other extremist ideologies, this past Friday the party has been under criticism as two local councillors were expelled for sharing Hitler photos and quote on WhatsApp.
Since its entry into government last December the Freedom Party has been involved in a string of incidents regarding Nazi sympathizers and racists. This includes FPÖ candidates flying flags with the word “Rassenreinheit” (“racial purity”), writing songbooks proclaiming to kill more Jews and wearing t-shirts with Hitler on them.
It seems as though each day bring on a new Nazi scandal for Austria’s co-governing Freedom party which is not a surprise from a far-right populist party. We have seen this trend among other countries as well, most notably the white supremacist uprising in the US. Is this the wake up call the world needs to start being more weary of these parties and the power of populism?