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Austria

Factsheet

ETHNIC MINORITIES:  

Muslim:

Roma:

5.7%

0.3%

RELIGIONS:  

Roman Catholic:

Protestant:

Muslim:

73.6%

4.7%

4.2%

NET MIGRATION:    150,000
POP. GROWTH RATE: +0.5%
GDP GROWTH: +0.9%
GDP PER CAPITA: 46,642
UNEMPLOYMENT: 4.3%

Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ)

 

 

The Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) was founded in 1956, but rose to prominence only in the 1980s when it formed a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party of Austria (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs, SPÖ). The peak of its political success was in 1999, when it won 26.9 per cent of the national vote and entered a coalition government with the Austrian People’s Party. The FPÖ’s disastrous performance was largely the result of a backlash from other European nations, which imposed sanctions on Austria because of the FPÖ’s radical anti-EU and anti-multicultural agenda. The FPÖ’s economic policies tend to be libertarian, favoring lower taxes and privatization, and advocating less government intervention in the economy. It emphasizes citizen control over the government by encouraging referenda and the direct election of the president. The FPÖ warns against rising Islamization (‘Austria First’ was an FPÖ slogan) demands strong limits on immigration and promotes the preservation of Austrian culture. In the autumn of 2011 FPÖ was polling so closely to the other major parties that FPÖ leader Heinz Christian Strache hopes to challenge the next election in 2013.

In the 2013 general elections the FPÖ managed to hold on to its third position in the political race and, in fact, compared to 2008 it managed to significantly increase its support base from 11.04 to 17.54%. In respect to its share of parliamentary mandates, it came close to second-place ÖVP. In the 2014 EP election campaign the party addresses migration and issues related to sovereignty, such as the reintroduction of border controls under national competence. The party came in third place, with 12.71%, winning 2 seats in the EP. Today, the party is part of the Europe of Nations and Freedoms alliance in the EP, led by Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders.

In the presidential election on May 22, 2016 Norbert Hofer lost by a mere 30,863 votes to former Greens Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen. FPÖ successfully challenged the election, on the grounds that regulations for handling postal ballots were not abided to. The Court’s ruling is unprecedented, as no other European democracy has ever repeated an election as a result of a national court decision. The re-run of the presidential election is set for October 2, 2016. Hofer has since softened his anti-EU policy openly stating he does not want Austria to leave the EU, despite earlier alluding one after Brexit.

(Last update on 18 July, 2016)

 

FPÖ on the Internet:

 

 

Sources:

- Jamie Bartlett et al.: “The New Face of Digital Populism.” Demos: London 2011, p. 103-104. Available online at http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Demos_OSIPOP_Book-web_03.pdf?1320601634

- Political Capital

 

Alliance for the Future of Austria (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, BZÖ)

 

 

The BZÖ party (Das Bündnis Zukunft Österreich) was formed in 2005 due to internal tensions between the more radical activist members within the FPÖ and leader Joerg Haider, during the FPÖ coalition with ÖVP. The situation resulted in Haider and the majority of MPs and cabinet members splitting from FPÖ to create BZÖ. The creation of BZÖ signaled the differences between the longtime leadership of Haider and the supporter base. Haider looked to separate BZÖ from the overly radically far-right FPÖ, making the relationship between Haider and Strache, FPÖ’s leader, tense. Haider’s untimely death in a car accident in 2008 forced the party into a sudden period of transition, having to find a new leader.  BZÖ is often perceived as a phenomenon of Carinthia, Haider’s original headquarters where he was governor on two occasions.
Following Haider’s death, the new BZÖ leadership sought to form a platform that combined social conservatism with liberal economics. Coinciding with the former leader’s sudden death, BZÖ’s popularity dropped from 10.7% in September 2008’s (which remains their best election to date) to 4.6% in 2009 European Parliament election, and 3.5% in 2013’s Parliament election. In the 2014 election results, BZÖ received a 0.47% score, confirming its continuing lack of popularity. Haider’s eventual successor, Josef Busch, had been struggling to fill Haider’s shoes and thus stepped down following 2013’s election. Under Joseph Bucher, the party has been economically liberal and socially conservative. Replacing Busch is the current leader, Gerald Grosz. In 2015, the new leader of the party was Johanna Trodt-Limpl.

(Last update on 18 July, 2016)

 

BZÖ on the Internet:

 

 

Sources:

- Political Capital

European elections - May 25, 2014

Parliamentary elections - September 29, 2013

European elections - June 7, 2009

Parliamentary elections - September 28, 2008

Parliamentary elections - October 1, 2006

Parliamentary elections - November 24, 2002

 

Source: Bundesministerium für Inneres

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