From Kärnten to Vienna and on to the State elections in Tirol and Salzburg, the situation for Austria’s Far-Right FPÖ is currently of failure, leading to crisis, followed by failure and eventually…..well the General Election in September certainly isn’t looking good for them.
First wave hits
After the State elections catastrophe in Kärnten and failure in Lower Austria the FPÖ has faced a wave of bad press coverage portraying a Party in crisis, it image as winners destroyed by corruption and extremism, its leader unable to bring order to the chaos and infighting. The reality of decline was further enhanced by an opinion poll in Vienna, the Party’s last stronghold, showing their vote significantly in decline.
Second wave hits
The only good news for FPÖ leader HC Strache, when the first waves of disaster hit, was that he appears to have managed to overt a direct challenge to his leadership. But this glimmer of light was more than offset by his unsuccessful attempt to remove the leader of the FPÖ (and political rival) in Lower Austria and a failed move to quickly force the FPÖ’s sister party in Kärnten, the FPK, back into the FPÖ. The aftermath left him looking weak, vulnerable to future challenges, and still with an ongoing crisis in Kärnten.
This week the crisis in Kärnten has deepened, and looks set to rumble on for some time to come, with:
- Threats of the FPK splitting into two separate parties
- Strache saying that he will consider ending co-operation with the FPK, with FPÖ then competing directly against them.
- The six FPK MPs in the State parliament splitting into two groups of 3. As club status requires 4 MP’s this means they will have no public funding and less influence in the parliament.
The effect of these splits, in one of the FPÖ’s former strongholds, could have a significant impact upon the Party come the general election for the Federal parliament in September.
The general decline in the FPÖ’s position and ongoing events in Kärnten are already having a knock on effect. The leader of the FPÖ in Tirol has called on the party to break now with the FPK. His group face their own State election in Tirol on the 28th April and polls are showing their vote down to around 8%. One week later the State of Salzburg will also hold its elections and the polls there show no sign of an FPÖ advance, despite both the SPÖ and ÖVP begin entangled in a government financial speculation scandal. In short the second wave looks likely to heap further chaos and crisis on the sinking FPÖ.
Here’s an interesting article (in German but Google translate works well enough) in the Kurier looking at the weaknesses of the FPÖ’s Strache. It compares the late Jörg Haider and Heinz-Christian Strache – to summarise HC is no Haider.
So the good news from Austrian politics this week is that it’s all bad news for the FPÖ.
Related story: Austrian polls round-up