Freedom Party of Austria
| It doesn't stop|
at the water's edge
The Freedom Party of Austria or FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs) is a far-right political party that has come to overtake the more moderate center-right ÖVP (Austrian People's Party) as Austria's dominant right-wing faction. Initially founded as a centrist party, under the influence of Jörg Haider, the party was very quickly taken over by wingnuts and borderline neo-Nazis. It came dangerously close to winning the Austrian presidency in 2016, winning over a third of the vote in the first round, and losing the annulled second round by 0.6% (a re-run widened the margin to 7.6%). The party dominated the province of Carinthia.
The party has strong links with Austria's traditional student fraternities, with 18 of 51 MPs active members of fraternities. Unlike in Germany where fraternities are student organisations with no particular political persuasion, in Austria they tend to be very right wing, strongly nationalist, and in favour of pan-German irredentism; they also have a strong history of anti-feminism and a fondness for Nazi Germany.
Pre-Haider era (1956-1986)
The FPÖ was founded on April 7, 1956, and was first lead by former SS officer and Nazi Minister of Agriculture Anton Reinthaller. He died in 1957 and was replaced by Friedrich Peter, a former Nazi who moved the party to the center, expelling the far-right in the process.[note 1] This culminated in the far-right finally leaving and founding their own party in 1967. The party officially joined Liberal International in 1978. However, the party never got more than 8% of the national vote. Peter stepped down in 1978.
Norbert Steger became the new party leader in 1980, firmly establishing its role as a centrist party. It entered a coalition with the SPÖ (Social Democratic Party of Austria) in 1983 because the SPÖ lost its absolute majority. In the same year, Haider began his rise to power by gaining control of the Carinthian branch of the party, beginning its descent into the far-right. In 1986, Haider won control of the party nationwide. While its support increased, the liberal influence waned because of this.
Haider era (1986-2000)
Haider had successfully taken control of the FPÖ. As the party surged in the polls as a result of this, the party become increasingly right-wing. In 1989, it won a coalition government with the more moderate ÖVP. It broke ties with the SPÖ and quickly formed ties with the ÖVP as it came to surpass it in Carinthia. The party moved to xenophobia, jingoism, and Euroscepticism, throwing out all Peter's achievements, and leaving Liberal International. The classical liberal faction was expelled as the party became increasingly far-right.
Post-Haider era (2000-)
Internal tensions emerged within the FPÖ, culminating in the offshoot party BZÖ being founded in 2005. Haider left with them. The FPÖ turned out way more stable following the split, as the FPÖ did better than the BZÖ everywhere but Carinthia.[note 2] In 2009, the Carinthian chapter of the BZÖ broke off from the party and cooperated with the FPÖ. The FPÖ gained over one-fourth of the national vote in 2009, a success unseen since 1996. The party now has 42% support amongst those under 30, and they came disturbingly close to winning the presidency in 2016.
In December 2017, FPÖ became part of a governing coalition along with the moderate conservative People's Party, making Austria the only Western European country being governed by a far-right party.
- We're serious.
- Haider dominated politics there.
- Austria rejects far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in presidential election, The Guardian, 4 Dec 2016
- See the Wikipedia article on Austrian presidential election, 2016.
- Austria’s far-right fraternities brace for protests at annual ball, The Guardian, 25 Jan 2018
- New Austrian Government Will Have A Far-Right Tilt by Miles Parks (December 16, 201711:45 AM ET) NPR: the two-way.
- Austrian president approves far-right Freedom party joining coalition government, The Guardian, 16 Dec 2017