Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution expects “increased risk potential” in election year

Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution expects “increased risk potential” in election year
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The election year 2024 poses special challenges for state protectors. This emerges from the Interior Ministry’s constitutional protection report, which was published on Saturday. Accordingly, right-wing extremism in particular is recognized as a danger: The “New Right” is increasingly striving to mix with party politics, which “results in an increased potential for danger this year for the democratic constitutional state,” says the report.

  • Article on the topic: Holy firewall: Old and new FPÖ contacts with the extreme right

“Alternative media” is gaining in importance

Which parties are meant is not explicitly stated in the report. However, it is emphasized that the importance of the digital space and “alternative media” will increase, since in both areas the “New Right” such as the “Identitarians” deliberately and actively spread (dis)information and thus influence the formation of political opinions become. The station “AUF1” and the platform “Info-Direkt” are mentioned as “alternative media”.

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In this context, the year 2024 will be a security policy challenge with the upcoming National Council and state elections, especially because the “New Right” sees itself as “one of the sponsors of Russian disinformation campaigns in Austria, as a political advance organization.” It is therefore to be expected that Russian narratives about this will increasingly be introduced into the political discourse.

In addition to the “New Right,” the “Old Right” also remains active. The first “Gerd Honsik Europe Congress” took place in Vienna last year. The Austrian right-wing extremist and Holocaust denier Honsik, who died in 2018 and was convicted several times, is still considered a central figure within the right-wing extremist scene. According to the report, the martial arts scene has now become very important in networking the relevant groups.

  • Also read: “There is a militarization of the right-wing extremist scene”

Increase in crimes by 30 percent

According to the report, in 2023 the security authorities in Austria became aware of a total of 1,208 (2022: 928) right-wing extremist, xenophobic/racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, unspecific or other acts. Compared to 2022, this represents an increase of 30.2 percent.

  • The numbers in detail: Upper Austria behind Vienna: Number of right-wing extremist crimes increased sharply in 2023

These numbers are far higher than those in the left-wing extremist area. 97 crimes were recorded here. However, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution also warns here. The strengthening of the extreme right could “result in an intensification of the fight against political opponents in all possible forms and represents a realistic scenario,” write the authors. There are attempts at recruitment from left-wing extremist sides in the climate movement, but this should not be viewed as left-wing extremist and it poses “no serious danger”.

Radicalized individuals as a danger

The situation is different with Islamists: “As in previous years, the greatest potential risk for terrorist attacks in Austria is represented by radicalized male individuals and small, autonomously acting groups,” says the report. It should be noted that a mid-double-digit number of so-called “foreign fighters” were released from prison in 2023. More would follow in the coming years.

  • Top News: 14-year-old is said to have planned a terrorist attack in Graz

The high status of the “Islamic State” among the young generation is based primarily on the quantity and quality of the propaganda content available online, which has a strong appeal to teenagers and young adults. The report notes a trend that parts of this generation sympathized with the Islamist-extremist spectrum not because of a specific ideological belief, but because of their affinity for violent depictions.

Video: Right and left-wing extremism is a major challenge for state security

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Source: Nachrichten

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