Politics

Rise and fall of the FPÖ, part II

Since Jörg Haider took over the party in 1986, there has been a steady rise and a sudden, deep fall. So also in Vienna 2020.

The longest faces on election evening were certainly with the Freedom Party, even if no one felt personally responsible for the election disaster. But the real dramas happened behind the scenes because a lot of people in the blue environment – mandataries, officials, but also a lot of employees – are now left with nothing. And not for the first time.

According to the extrapolation from the evening of the election, the FPÖ should only have eight seats from its last 30 mandates in the Vienna Landtag. The four non-executive city councilors – one of them is Deputy Mayor Dominik Nepp – are likely to disappear, at best one will remain.

The minus in the election result will have an almost one-to-one effect on Vienna’s party funding, estimates expert Hubert Sickinger. Around three quarters of the 8.9 million euros that the city FPÖ received last year could be canceled.

KURIER / Breineder

This also means that many employees and office workers will have to be terminated. The FPÖ club alone recently received around 2.67 million euros.

In addition, the FPÖ is likely to lose three out of four federal councilors that the Vienna state parliament had sent to parliament. The Vienna FPÖ does not want to comment on the imminent deforestation – they are waiting for the official final result.

Not a sustainable project

Since Jörg Haider came to power at the federal party conference in Innsbruck in 1986, the path of the FPÖ has had a clear pattern that has always looked the same: a slow, long-term, steady rise with a charismatic leader (first Haider, from 2002 Strache) through a sharp right-wing populist policy, which apparently inevitably led to the tearing up of the party and resulted in a disastrous fall in state parliament or national council elections.

At least that’s how Andreas Mölzer, party leader and veteran of the national camp, sees it. The FPÖ was only successful in a few elections, but the success – or the policy implemented – was never sustainable. The whole thing was more of a Potemkin village, Mölzer finds the day after.

The FPÖ was at the height of its power after the National Council election in 1999: with Jörg Haider at the helm, the Blues achieved an unmatched share of the vote of 26.91 percent. This brought them 52 MPs in the National Council, as many as the ÖVP of Wolfgang Schüssel, who at that time formed a coalition with Susanne Riess-Passer (instead of Haider).

In the next election to the National Council, which was brought forward after the Knittelfelder putsch in 2002, the FPÖ crashed down to ten percent. Heinz-Christian Strache brought it back up to 26 percent by 2017 – and in a new government with the ÖVP, this time with Sebastian Kurz as Chancellor. The crash followed just a year and a half later. And now Vienna, where a similar picture emerges.

Next stop: Upper Austria, the last “Gallic village” of the blues, where voting will take place in a good year. Manfred Haimbuchner has been Deputy Governor there since 2013 and forms a coalition with Thomas Stelzer’s ÖVP. Like Strache, he led his state FPÖ to its previous high in 2015 – with Haimbuchner it was 30.4 percent. And current surveys predict a crash for him too: According to the OÖN’s Sunday question from July, Haimbuchner’s blues only come to 22 percent.

Haimbuchner himself is stacking even lower after Vienna: he is aiming for “20 percent plus”, he said on Monday. For the blues in Upper Austria there are three seats in the state government, 18 mandates in the state parliament and a lot of money at stake.In 2019 they received a total of around 7.7 million euros in funding for the party, state parliament club and educational academy.

And how does it go on?

The FPÖ is now at a crossroads again: Will they be a moderate and predictable, but smaller right-wing party? Haimbuchner and the current party leader Norbert Hofer are more in favor of this course. Or do you continue to rely on voice maximization according to Herbert Kickl’s school of thought?

Kickl has already made his suggestion: “Justice lives only through the righteous. Bravery only through the brave. Modesty only through the humble, ”he writes on Facebook. And: “That’s how I see our mission. That’s how I see my job. “

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