Freedom Party of Austria

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Freedom Party of Austria
Party leader Norbert Hofer
Parliamentary leader Walter Rosenkranz
Founded 1955
Headquarters Vienna
Political ideology Conservatism
Right-wing populism
Political position Right-wing
International affiliation Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom[1]
Color(s) blue
Results of the first round of the 2016 Austrian presidential election, where the FPÖ (blue) received its best election result at the time (although it was surpassed in the two runoff elections).

The Freedom Party of Austria (German: Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs; FPÖ) is a conservative, Euroskeptic, and right-wing populist party in Austria. Along with other right-wing parties in Europe, is has seen large success in the early 21st Century.

According to political analyst Thomas Hofer, the FPÖ's politically incorrect style and policies inspired many other right-wing populist and nationalist parties across Europe and helped make those beliefs mainstream in the continent.[2] Like other conservative European parties, the FPÖ has been heavily attacked and maligned by the establishment and mainstream media, and leftist activists have attempted violence against the party's officials.[3]



The FPÖ was founded in 1956 by Anton Reinthaller, a former SS officer[4] who had served in the post-Anschluss government in Austria that collaborated with the Nazis.[5] It was a successor to the League of Independents, "a nationalist party representing the interests of the Nazis."[6] Despite this, and despite the fact that it attracted former Nazis, the FPÖ was not an extremist or neo-Nazi party, and it had liberal and nationalist factions.[5]

Early in its history, the party was pro-German, and it supported limited government and free enterprise.[5] Between the 1950s and 1980s, the liberal faction of the party strengthened, and in 1979 it became a member of Liberal International and attempted to form an alliance with the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) during the 1970s.[5] It briefly participated in a government coalition with the SPÖ between 1983 and 1986.[5]

The FPÖ was involved in a notable incident in 1975 when its president, Friedrich Peter, was accused by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal of having been a member of the First SS Infantry Brigade in World War II which executed 10,513 people, including 8350 Jews, in the Soviet Union in 1942. While Peter admitted membership in the SS brigade he rejected charges that he had ever participated in murders or persecution, and Wiesenthal himself conceded that there was no evidence that Peter had ever personally executed anyone.[7] Peter himself was a member of the liberal faction of the FPÖ and had led the effort to align the party with the SPÖ.[5]

Party under Haider

In 1986, Jörg Haider, a 36-year-old member of the nationalist faction of the party and leader of the Carinthian FPÖ chapter, was elected party president.[5] He shifted the party to the conservative right. During his presidency, the FPÖ performed significantly and increasingly better in elections,[8] overtaking the moderately conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) as the second largest party in Carinthia in 1989, for example.[5] In that election, Haider was elected president of the province, and he served until resigning in June 1991.[5] He served again from 1999 to his death in 2008.[8]

The FPÖ received 27 percent of the vote in the 1999 parliamentary elections, becoming the second largest party in Austria, over the ÖVP.[8] In a surprise move, and after unsuccessful negotiations with the SPÖ, the ÖVP formed a coalition government with the Freedom Party.[8] Due to a backlash from the liberal European political establishment, Haider was forced to resign his position as president.[8]

Post-split: 2005–2016

Norbert Hofer (center)

During the governing coalition, tensions arose between Haider and his allies, who were becoming increasingly pragmatic, and the more radical party base.[9] The tensions cumulated in 2005, when Haider, most FPÖ MPs, and all cabinet members left the party to form the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ).[6][9]

The BZÖ performed well in the 2006 and 2008 elections,[6] but the FPÖ actually increased its share of the vote in the 2006 elections.[9] After Haider's death, the BZÖ shifted towards the political center, and in 2010, many of its members rejoined the FPÖ.[6] Heinz-Christian Strache became the leader of the FPÖ.[9]

In the first round of the 2016 Austrian presidential election, FPÖ candidate Norbert Hofer received 35.1 percent of the vote, which at the time was the party's best result in a national election in history.[10] Although Hofer lost the run-off election by less than one percentage point, Austria's Constitutional Court ordered a re-run of the election due to irregularities in mail-in ballots.[11] The election was eventually postponed until December 4, 2016.[12][13] Although Hofer lost the election, being defeated by leftist Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, the party vowed to fight on.[14]

2017 elections and Austrian government

Going into the 2017 legislative elections, the FPÖ was at first place according to opinion polls until Sebastian Kurz became the leader of the ÖVP and overtook the party.[15] While the FPÖ appeared likely to still reach second place in the election,[16] the Social Democrats narrowly outperformed it in the election.[17] However, the election was still a victory in some ways for the FPÖ, as it still increased its share of the vote,[18] and it achieved a large ideological victory in causing the ÖVP to adopt positions on immigration and Islam very similar to the FPÖ.[15][18][19][20][21] The FPÖ formed a coalition deal with the ÖVP and was able to take several key government agencies, including the interior and defense ministries.[22]

In January 2018, the FPÖ-controlled interior ministry created a new border force to "ensure orderly border management."[23][24] By June 2018, the number of deportations had risen by 36% compared to the previous year.[25] In July 2018, Transportation Minister Norbert Hofer banned the option of taking driving tests in Turkish.[26] FPÖ Defense Minister Mario Kunasek appointed Robert Brieger, who warned that mass migration is the country's greatest threat, as Chief of Staff of the army.[27] In October 2018, the ÖVP–FPÖ government announced Austria would withdraw from the United Nation's global migration compact.[28] In December 2018, the Austrian government announced it would enact a policy blocking asylum by default for migrants to arrive through the help of smugglers,[29] and it enacted a policy of reducing payments to children abroad, something the EU began infringement proceedings over.[30]

In January 2019, Defense Minister Kunasek, an FPÖ member, announced Austria would not participate in creating an EU army, a project pursued by Europhiles.[31]

Establishment backlash

The globalist establishment did not wait long before attempting to destroy the FPÖ and its political influence. On May 18, 2019, FPÖ leader and Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned from both positions, after being accused of taking bribes, in order to protect the government coalition – this allegation was based on a single video taken in mid-2017, well before the FPÖ's return to government, though the video was only released days before the European Parliament election.[32] Despite this, establishmentarian Chancellor Kurz, caving to left-wing pressure, still decided to tear down the government by calling a new election.[33] Meanwhile, in the province of Burgenland, the Social Democratic Party governor ended his cooperation with the FPÖ.[34] Globalist politicians hoped this attempt at slander would stop the rise of Europe's conservative-nationalist movement.[35]

Not only did Kurz willingly move to end the FPÖ–ÖVP coalition, but he also moved to dismiss the FPÖ's conservative, anti-mass migration interior minister, stating that he wanted him and other FPÖ leaders replaced by establishment bureaucrats.[36] All of the ministers resigned after Kurz made this move.[37] On May 27, 2019, the FPÖ and SPÖ succeeded in pushing Kurz out of office through a no-confidence vote.[38] The FPÖ lost support in the September 2019 election.[39]

Political positions

Heinz-Christian Strache

The FPÖ is a conservative, right-wing party. Although the mainstream media has characterized the party as "far-right," the party characterizes itself as "center-right."[40]

The FPÖ supports increased border security and reducing immigration.[6] It strongly opposes Islam and its increasing influence in Europe.[6] It supports banning the Burqa,[6] which might potentially act as a slippery slope for religious liberty restrictions, though it does support maintaining crucifixes in public schools and courts. Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, a member of the FPÖ, proposed prosecuting radical Islamists if they advocate for Sharia Law over Austrian constitutional law.[41] The party supports preserving Austria's traditional demographic composition and opposes population exchange.[42]

The FPÖ leans pro-Life and opposes same-sex "marriage", euthanasia, and gun control. However, it opposes capital punishment. The party has mixed economic policies, as it supports cutting taxes for individuals and businesses, but it also supports raising Austria's minimum wage and establishing a minimum pension rate.[43] The party also supports individual liberty, as opposed to expansive government control, and supports greater free speech rights.[44] The FPÖ is skeptical of climate alarmism.[45]

Compared to many other Euroskeptic parties, the FPÖ has a soft and moderate position on the socialist and globalist European Union,[40] only supporting an exit referendum if Turkey joins[6] or if the EU threatens to develop into a country.

In June 2017, FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache called for moving the Austrian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,[46] and he has spoken against anti-Semitism.[47] Despite accusations of the party being "anti-Semitic", it holds strong pro-Israel positions,[48] something that Sebastian Kurz of the ÖVP also affirmed.[49] The FPÖ also has Jewish lawmakers in its ranks.[50] Despite all of this, Israel has maintained a non-engagement policy with the party because of its past connections with former Nazi figures and with some of its members allegedly having antisemitic and racist leanings. In 1999, Israel recalled its ambassador to Vienna for three years because the party joined the coalition.[48][51]

See also


  2. Bell, Bethany (December 23, 2017). Austrian far-right triumph inspires nationalists in EU. BBC News. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. Multiple references:
  4. The Hitler legacy. The Herald. April 17, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 The Freedom Party of Austria. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Smith, Reiss (September 22, 2016). What is the Freedom Party of Austria? The anti-EU party that could win Austria's election. Daily Express. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  7. Kreisky Attacks Wiesenthal. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. October 14, 1975. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Rauch, Robert. Jörg Haider. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Freedom Party of Austria. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  10. Troianovski, Anton (April 25, 2016). European Right Gets Boost From Austrian Freedom Party Victory. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  11. Troianovski, Anton (June 1, 2016). Austrian Court Orders Rerun of Presidential Vote. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  12. Connolly, Kate (September 12, 2016). Austrian presidential election postponed due to faulty glue. The Guardian. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  13. Tomlinson, Chris (September 13, 2016). Freedom Party Calls Austrian Election Delay An ‘Embarrassment’. Breitbart. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  14. Oliphant, Roland; Cseko, Balazs (December 4, 2016). Austrian far-right defiant as Freedom Party claims 'pole position' for general election: 'Our time comes'. The Telegraph. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Knolle, Kirsti; Nasralla, Shadia (September 5, 2017). Austria's far-right party accuses conservatives of stealing campaign ideas. Reuters. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  16. Atkins, Ralph (October 8, 2017). Austria’s populist Freedom party gears up for poll. Financial Times. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  17. Austrian Social Democrats Come Second in Tight Election Race. Sputnik. October 20, 2017. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Barkin, Noah (October 15, 2017). What Austria's election says about Europe's political landscape. Reuters. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  19. Murphy, Francois (July 16, 2017). Win or lose, Austrian far right's views have entered government. Reuters. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  20. Witte, Griff (October 13, 2017). Win or lose in Austrian vote, the far right triumphs as rivals back policies once deemed fringe. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  21. Grabbe, Heather (October 18, 2017). Why Europe isn’t worried by Austria’s right tilt (but should be). Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  22. Multiple references: For information on the individual cabinet members:
  23. Tomlinson, Chris (January 22, 2018). Austria Announces ‘Border Protection Unit’ to Manage Migration. Breitbart News. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  24. Austrian far-right orders 'border protection unit'. The Local. January 19, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  25. Tomlinson, Chris (June 14, 2018). Austria: Deportations up 36 Percent Under Populist Interior Minister. Breitbart News. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  26. Tomlinson, Chris (July 24, 2018). Austria Bans ‘Unreasonable’ Turkish-Language Driving Tests. Breitbart News. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  27. Tomlinson, Chris (July 26, 2018). New Army Chief Warns Mass Migration Greatest Danger to Austria. Breitbart News. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  28. Multiple references: See also:
  29. Hale, Virginia (December 22, 2018). Austria to Automatically Reject Smuggled Migrants Under Tough New Plans. Breitbart News. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  30. Tomlinson, Chris (January 27, 2019). EU Moves Against Austria for Changing Benefit Payments for Children Living Abroad. Breitbart News. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  31. Lane, Oliver JJ (January 2, 2019). Austria Withdraws Support from EU Army Project. Breitbart News. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  32. Multiple references:
  33. Multiple references:
  34. Austrian Social Democratic provincial governor ends cooperation with Freedom Party. Reuters. May 19, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  35. Knolle, Kirsti (May 19, 2019). European mainstream politicians see hope in downfall of Austrian far right leader. Reuters. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  36. Multiple references:
  37. Multiple references: See also:
  38. Multiple references: See also:
  39. Multiple references:
  40. 40.0 40.1 ‘We’re center right, not far right’ – Austria’s Freedom party. RT. July 1, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  41. Tomlinson, Chris (August 17, 2018). Austrian Populist Interior Minister: Criminalise Sharia Law Advocacy. Breitbart News. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  42. Multiple references: See also:
  43. Austria's far-right Freedom Party proposes tax cuts if elected. Reuters. August 23, 2017. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  44. Tomlinson, Chris (May 20, 2018). Austria’s New Vice-Chancellor Shares Video Slamming Prosecution of Generation Identity. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
    See also:
  45. Austria's far right takes aim at climate activist Thunberg. The Washington Times (from the Associated Press). September 28, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  46. Tomlinson, Chris (June 23, 2017). Populist Party Leader: Move the Austrian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Breitbart News. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  47. Baker, Luke (April 12, 2016). Far-right Austrian leader visits Israel's Holocaust memorial. Reuters. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  48. 48.0 48.1 Ahren, Raphael (October 11, 2017). In Austria, rise of pro-Israel, far-right faction forces Israel into corner. The Times of Israel. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  49. Tomlinson, Chris (January 19, 2018). Austrian Chancellor: Right-Wing Populists Have Allowed This Government to be Pro-Israel. Breitbart News. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  50. Byas, Steve (January 1, 2019). Right-wing European Parties Seek Jewish Support. The New American. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  51. Keinon, Herb (December 19, 2017). For Now, Israel Won't Deal with Far-Right Austrian Freedom Party Ministers. The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved February 7, 2018.

External links