Alliance for the Future of Austria: Wikis

  
  

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Alliance for the Future of Austria
Bündnis Zukunft Österreich
Leader Josef Bucher
Founded 3 April 2005
by Jörg Haider[1]
Headquarters Kärntner Ring 11-13/7/4
A-1010 Vienna
Ideology National liberalism,[2]
Right-wing populism
Political position Far right[3]
International affiliation None
European affiliation None
European Parliament Group None
Official colours Orange
Parliament:
European Parliament:
Website
http://www.bzoe.at/
Politics of Austria
Political parties
Elections

The Alliance for the Future of Austria (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, BZÖ) is a national liberal political party in Austria which was led by one of its founders Jörg Haider until his death on October 11, 2008. It was founded by members of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) on April 3, 2005. In the period after Haider's death, the party was led by a temporary leadership team. On 26 April 2009, at a party congress in Linz, Josef Bucher was elected as the new leader of the party.

Since the BZÖ performed poorly in the federal elections it participated in shortly after its formation, many commentators believed that it would disappear after the 2006 general election. However, the party obtained 4.1% of the vote and 7 seats in the National Council in 2006. The party was led by Peter Westenthaler from June 2006 until his removal as Leader in August 2008 due to his conviction for perjury. Haider formally re-assumed the party chairmanship on August 30, 2008, and was the party's candidate for Chancellor of Austria in snap general elections that took place on September 28, 2008. In those elections, the BZÖ scored a major victory taking 522,933 votes nationally translating into 10.70% of the total national vote. The party increased its representation from 7 to 21 seats in the National Council.

Contents

Foundation

The BZÖ was founded as the result of considerable disagreements within the Freedom Party between Jörg Haider and the circle around Heinz-Christian Strache, Andreas Mölzer and Ewald Stadler. The party's charter was deposited at the Federal Ministry for the Interior on April 3, 2005, as is required by Austrian law and the foundation of the party was announced by former members of the Freedom Party the following day.

On April 6, 2005, the party's charter was published in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung, an act which is required upon the foundation of a new party, and the initial conference took place on April 17 in Salzburg where the party's programme was agreed upon.

The BZÖ became the first party of the Second Republic to immediately join a government without taking part in an election. In the coalition with the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), the BZÖ held the vice-chancellorship and two ministries.

Party chairman

Members

At the initial party conference on April 17, 2005, Jörg Haider was elected leader of the Alliance. Hubert Gorbach, the Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Infrastructure was the parliamentary leader, with Heike Trammer and Karin Gastinger as his deputies. Uwe Scheuch, a member of the National Council and former General Secretary of the Freedom Party, is the Alliance's spokesman. The BZÖ has chosen orange as its party colour.
On September 24, 2006 Karin Gastinger left the BZÖ, staying Minister of Justice.

Other prominent members are:

  • Social Security Minister and former Freedom Party leader Ursula Haubner (Jörg Haider's sister)
  • Thomas Prinzhorn, the Deputy President of the National Council
  • Herbert Scheibner, the leader of the Freedom Party group in the National Council

However, of the above-named politicians only Herbert Scheibner has resigned from the Freedom Party. The other intend to belong to both parties, the Freedom Party and the BZÖ. The Freedom Party, however, has announced that it will not accept members who belong to other parties. Following this announcement, on April 7, 2008, Hilmar Kabas, the Freedom Party's interim leader, expelled Jörg Haider, who had been the Freedom Party's federal leader and main ideologue for years. Along with Haider, Martin Strutz, the Freedom Party's leader in Carinthia, and the former parliamentary group leader Kurt Scheuch were expelled. Kabas stated that anyone who was a member of another party could no longer be a member of the Freedom Party. Jörg Haider remained leader or "Bündnisobmann" of the BZÖ until his death in October 2008.

Policies

The appearance of the poster of a politician in rolled-up shirt sleeves and loosened tie who gets things done coincided with the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Without mentioning any of the party's policies it features slogans "Kick-off for Austria" and (at the bottom) "Desire for home", both printed in blue, which is a colour traditionally used by the FPÖ.

The BZÖ describes itself as "ideologiefrei, aber zukunftsorientiert und wertebewusst" (free from ideology, but forward-looking and conscious of traditional values). Some of its policies, however, are quite distinct from those of the Freedom Party.[4] They include:

Differences and similarities to other parties

Although the party was often claimed to be as far-right like the Freedom Party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria differs.

FPÖ and BZÖ are both EU-sceptic parties and in the 2006 general election, the Freedom Party as well as the Alliance for the Future of Austria both claimed they would decrease immigration and opposed Turkish membership in the European Union.

In the Austrian legislative election 2008 campaign the ÖVP sees the lowering of brokerage commissions and the charges for arrears letters of debt collection agencies and winter fuel payments for lower-income households as appropriate measures against the inflation and the Greens want to facilitate the changeover to renewable energy in order to reduce energy prices.

The SPÖ proposes a stricter controlling of prices in addition to the reduction of brokerage commissions. Both the Alliance for the Future of Austria and the Freedom Party see the main problem in the rising fuel prices; the FPÖ demands a ceiling price for fuel, while the BZÖ in addition wants to reduce taxes on fuels. However, the Alliance for the Future of Austria even announced the people's initiative "Preisstop jetzt!" calling for a stop to rising prices to be held; however, due to the necessary timeframe, the period during which people will be able to sign for the initiative will only start after the election, thus limiting its potential impact.

SPÖ, ÖVP and the Greens ratified the Treaty of Lisbon in parliament without a referendum, and only FPÖ and the Alliance for the Future of Austria didn't sign. But afterwards the SPÖ stated that for future treaties of the European Union referendums should be held to let the people decide like in Ireland (where they had a referendum). Due to SPÖ's position change on the EU not only the two opposition parties are using the possibility of EU-referendums before a ratification as subject now. The ÖVP and the Greens are against any referendums on the Lisbon Treaty, SPÖ demands there should be referendums on future treaties of the European Union, the FPÖ is for a referendum for the Lisbon Treaty, and even wants a referendum for EU-Withdrawal. However, the BZÖ differs a bit in comparison to the Freedom Party, as is in favor of a referendum about the Lisbon Treaty but against an EU-Withdrawal.[5]

In October 2008 Parliamentary Chairman Bucher claimed wanting to move the Party towards the ÖVP.[6]

On 15 October 2009 the Party changed there position to moderate right-wing liberal policies. They call themselves "rechtsliberal" right-wing liberals now, the party is declared as "wirtschaftspolitisch liberal aber gesellschaftspolitisch konservativ" meaning they are an economical liberal, but in society conservative positioned movement. One of these changes was the introducing of an Green card model like in Canada, for Austria, to limit immigration , a major different to there former Party members in the right wing Freedom Party, which has no feasable solution for immigration politics, yet. [7] [8] [9]

Popular support

The Early Days

The first test for the BZÖ came in a series of Landtag elections in October 2005. In the elections to the Styrian state parliament on October 2, 2005, the BZÖ only obtained a 1.7% share of votes and clearly failed to enter the Landtag, while the FPÖ, with a percentage of 4.6%, failed by a much smaller margin. The BZÖ's leading candidate was Michael Schmid, a former Austrian minister of infrastructure.

The BZÖ did not stand in the elections in Burgenland on October 9. In the October 23 Vienna elections, it was led by former Lower Austrian state government member Hans Jörg Schimanek. However, it captured only 1.2% of votes, while the FPÖ, led by national party chairman Heinz-Christian Strache, surprised pollsters with a share of 14.9%.

As the result of these developments, prominent party members who did not clearly take sides called upon leaders to mend the rift. However, since the BZÖ subsequently did not gain recognition in the electorate, it was assumed that FPÖ Chairman Heinz-Christian Strache would have been in a better position to reunite the group under his leadership. This changed with the general elections of September 28, 2008.

National Electoral Success

Under the leadership of Jörg Haider the BZÖ achieved stunning electoral success in the elections of 28 September 2008, gaining 522,933 votes and 10.70% of the national vote. The party's seat count tripled as a result and the party will maintain 21 seats in the incoming Austrian parliament, placing 4th in the 2008 Austrian legislative election.

Turning down offers to jointly contend the 2009 European Parliament election with the eurosceptical pan-European network Libertas.eu,[10] BZÖ received in their first European Parliament election just 4.58% of the votes, thereby missing a seat in the European Parliament.

Election results

National Council of Austria
Election year # of total votes  % of overall vote # of seats
2006 193,539 4.1% 7
2008 522,933 10.7% 21

Presence in the federal states

The organizations of the Freedom Party in the individual Bundesländer (states) reacted in very different ways to the creation of the BZÖ at first. The Carinthian branch of the Freedom Party, which enjoys a great deal of autonomy under the party's statutes, is the only state organisation which became a part of the BZÖ en masse and now forms its core.

The Freedom Party in Upper Austria originally planned to decouple itself from the federal party and go its own way without joining the BZÖ for the time being. There were differing legal interpretations of what such a decoupling might entail and what the exact relationship is between the state and federal Freedom Party. Consequently on April 18, 2005 the locks on the offices of the Freedom Party in Upper Austria were changed twice in the space of one evening. The first change of locks was on the orders of interim federal leader Hilmar Kabas on the basis that the federal party was listed as owner in the land registry. Günther Steinkellner, the leader of the Freedom Party in Upper Austria (which considers itself independent from the federal party and does not accept Hilmar Kabas' expulsion of Steinkellner from the party) instituted legal action for criminal damage and had the locks changed again. In April 2006 the convention of the Freedom Party of Upper Austria decided to rejoin the federal organisation of the FPÖ. Former party expulsions have been revoked.

The Freedom Party in Vorarlberg also initially announced its intention to go its own way, but then decided a few days later to remain a part of the Freedom Party so as not to lose its official funding.

The state parties split in Vienna, the Tyrol and Styria. The state leaders in these three Bundesländer decided to remain a part of the Freedom Party, although some members of these state groups showed sympathy towards the BZÖ. In Vienna, nine of the twenty-one-strong Freedom Party contingent in the Landtag (state assembly) want to form their own group Bündnis Zukunft Wien (Alliance for the Future of Vienna) with close links to the BZÖ. In Tyrol, both Freedom Party deputies in the Landtag crossed over to the BZÖ, whilst the state party leader Gerald Hauser continued on course with the Freedom Party and threatened to expel the two deputies from the Freedom Party. In Styria, three of the seven deputies moved to the BZÖ.

These events have brought sharp criticism from Barbara Rosenkranz, leader of the Lower Austrian Freedom Party and a deputy of the National Council. Her state party should remain within the Freedom Party, which is also the case with regard to Salzburg. The state party in Burgenland also unanimously declared they would remain within the Freedom Party.

Finances

The BZÖ's financial situation remains unclear. The group will not take over any of the Freedom Party's debts, but on the other hand, it has no access to the Freedom Party's means of support. The parliamentary group of the Freedom Party, to which the BZÖ nominally still belongs, is entitled to an annual grant of €1,976,000. However, the state party funding still belongs to the Freedom Party as this was the party that fought the last election. The relatively wealthy Freedom Party state organisation in Vienna will not be transferred to the BZÖ. There has been repeated speculation that the Austrian-Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach might support the BZÖ, primarily because he enjoys good relations with Jörg Haider. This has been denied by Andreas Rudas, spokesman for Stronach's Magna International, and Stronach himself has made no comment on the matter. There are no other big contributors in the picture currently and the party will therefore have to support itself exclusively from membership subscriptions.

Controversies

The party's name

The marketing of the party is the responsibility of Haider's ally of many years Gernot Rumpold. According to reports in the media numerous names were considered for the new party before Bündnis Zukunft Österreich was chosen. This name could provoke conflict as there is a party which has been active in Germany since 2001 by the name of Bündnis für die Zukunft (Alliance for the Future) which is on guard against the seizure of its name by a break-away group of the "Haider party". The name Bündnis für die Zukunft has long stood for a party with non-violent, social, ecological, and democratic concerns.[11] Members of this party are particularly concerned about being confused with the right-wing Austrian party in the event of a European election and do not want to be associated with the policies of a party formed from the break up of the Freedom Party.

Sources

Much of the content of this article is translated from the corresponding German Wikipedia article as of September 11, 2005.

External links

Coordinates: 46°34′56.60″N 14°16′57.90″E / 46.582389°N 14.28275°E / 46.582389; 14.28275








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