Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis

By Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard; Malcolm Coulthard | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

The genesis of racist discourse in Austria since 1989

Ruth Wodak

Whenever one comes to Vienna, one is met on the way into the city by a barrage of colourful posters proclaiming ‘Vienna is different’. This ‘difference’ compared to other European capital cities is said to lie in Vienna’s being less dirty, noisy and crowded. The Austrian government apparently wishes to keep it so—that is, less crowded: the new residency law that came into effect on 1 July 1993 not only closes the door to many potential immigrants, but also effectively empowers the immigration authorities to expatriate any number of those who have lived legally in Austria for years. Alas, Austria’s increasingly restrictive residency requirements have narrowed Vienna’s ‘difference’ with other European capitals considerably.

Prospective immigrants not only must be, as the law states, ‘capable of being integrated and willing to integrate’, but also are now required to file their application for residency in Austria from their native land, irrespective of where they might currently reside. Moreover, the application, filed from abroad, must show proof of permanent employment in Austria, and show that one has arranged for housing sufficient to provide a minimum of 10 square metres per person.

The potential for abuse is most acute for those who wish to extend their temporary residency permits. According to the new law, if the Austrian immigration authorities fail to complete work on the request by the end of six weeks after the expiration of the current permit, applicants lose their authorisation to remain in the country, even if the delay is due only to the slowness or inefficiency of the immigration authorities themselves. And without any legal right to remain in the country, applicants may be expelled at the authorities’ discretion.

It is, of course, utopian to believe that any country, especially one with a population of less than 8 million, could open its doors to unrestricted immigration. Yet the provisions of the new law—everywhere understood and widely hailed as a measure designed to crack down on illegal immigration—appear even to some of the politicians who voted for it as inhumane. The provision about the size of flat is particularly ironic: not

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