Liberal Party, Austria

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  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)


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Traditionally, the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ) could count on the support of 5–10 per cent of the voting population. However, under the leadership of Jörg Haider from 1986, the FPö moved to the far right, seeking to incite and exploit popular hostility towards the country's immigrants and resentment of the political system. Subsequently, the FPÖ went from strength to strength, capturing over 22 per cent in the 1994 national elections, and over 30 per cent in many state elections. In 1999 it became the second strongest party in the parliamentary elections by a margin of 415 votes, when it obtained 26.9 per cent of the popular vote. Its appeal had been strengthened by the perceived ossification of traditional Social Democratic and Christian Democratic elites, which were seen as distributing the spoils of power between themselves (Proporz). The FPÖ successfully presented itself as a party of the common person, and caused an international uproar when it joined the Christian Democrats in a government coalition. However, participation in government made it more difficult to conduct populist campaigns against the establishment, despite Haider's best efforts. The FPÖ declined sharply in the 2002 elections, though it continued in government, and in 2005 it split, with a disgruntled Haider creating a new organization on the far right, the BZÖ (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, League for Austria's Future). In the 2006 elections both parties entered parliament, still commanding a combined vote of 15 per cent. The two parties made significant gains in the 2008 elections, receiving over 28 per cent of the vote, but neither party were asked to become part of the ruling coalition. Shortly after the election, Jörg Haider was killed in a car crash.http://www.fpoe.atThe official website of the FPÖ.http://www.bzoe.atThe official website of the BZÖ.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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