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VIENNA: Some 20,000 people rallied on Saturday against Austria’s new conservative-far right coalition, over its hard-line stances on immigration and social policy, police said.

Marchers descended on a central district housing several ministries to make known the views of a protesters’ “New Year welcome committee” for the administration of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who became the world’s youngest leader at 31 last month.

Organisers said as many as 50,000 people answered their call to protest at the inclusion in the government of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPOe), which holds six cabinet portfolios, including that of the vice-chancellor, party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

“What I fear the most is that this type of government becomes the norm,” said one demonstrator, 55-year-old Christa, while Tobias Grettica, a 47-year-old German, said he was worried “to see nationalism making inroads everywhere, not just in Austria.”

People of all ages, including families, answered the call of leftist and anti-racist groups to turn out.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2018