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Mass anti-vaccine protests to take place across European capitals


Mass anti-vaccine protests to take place across European capitals

Mass anti-vaccine protests will take place across European capitals. Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Mass demonstrations against vaccines and lockdown measures will take place today across several European capitals.

The protests come as Europe battles a huge spike in COVID-19 cases—overwhelmingly of the Omicron variant. On Thursday, Austria’s lower house of parliament voted to mandate vaccinations for all adults in the country, with only the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) opposing the measure. Non-exempted refusals will result in a $4,084 fine. On the same day, Austria broke a new record of 27,677 daily cases—a trend replicated across the continent.

Given these ongoing high case numbers, the protests are unlikely to stop other European countries from following Austria’s lead. Germany will introduce similar legislation next week, and France has signaled further future restrictions on unvaccinated people. In turn, expect the staunch remainder of the anti-vaccination movement to shift underground to escape COVID vaccination mandates. This means secret restaurants, cinemas and nightclubs opening to unvaccinated people.

This is fertile ground for far-right parties like FPO to target votes in Austria. However, with France’s April 10 presidential elections looming, expect center-right and far-right candidates to cannibalize each other’s votes with softer positions on vaccine mandates—a bid to differentiate themselves from incumbent Emmanuel Macron’s hard-line pro-vaccine mandate stance.

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