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The surprise comeback of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party

A ghost is Haunting Austria – the prospect of a government led by Herbert Kicker, boss of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ). According to a March 11 poll Introduction,weekly, FPÖ Now the strongest party in the Alpine Republic with 31% of the vote, followed by the Socialist Party (Spo) 25% and the center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) twenty two%.If Austrians could vote for their chancellor directly, opinion polls suggest it would be Mr Kickl and ÖVPCarnehammer, incumbent.

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Recent state election results in Lower Austria, formerly a federal fiefdom ÖVPconfirmed revival FPÖ. this ÖVP lost its absolute majority and gained 40% of the vote, the worst result in decades, while FPÖof Share jumped from 15% to 24%. On March 5, the voters of Carinthia, FPÖ stronghold and hometown of Mr Kickl, the party’s share of the vote rose to 25 percent from 23 percent in 2018; Spo Lost nine percentage points.

s reason FPÖ The comeback is a poor showing for the leaders of the two mainstream parties, ÖVP and Spo, And the intersection of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.Austrian tourism hit hard by successive chaotic covid policies ÖVP– Led government.

Mr. Kickl is virtually unknown outside of Austria, despite being a hard-line theorist with the likes of Jörg Haider and Heinz-Christian Strache ah ah ahlong-term leader. He concocted many of the party’s most obscene slogans, such as “Courage for our Viennese blood” and “Homeland, not Islam.”

His ascent to the top came after the scandal that engulfed Austria in May 2019 seemed to herald its eventual doom. FPÖ. A secretly filmed video shows Mr. Strache, then FPÖof The boss, of a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza, appears to have promised contracts with the government in return for a political party donation to the niece of an oligarch who claims to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.Mr. Strache is out, as the boss of the company FPÖ And within 24 hours became Austria’s deputy chancellor.

Sebastian Kurz, then chancellor, dissolves his coalition government ÖVP and ah, And called for early elections.support FPÖ It then plunged by a third, from 25% to just 16%.Mr Kurz picks the Greens as his new coalition partner over the Feel sorry.

In the Vienna municipal elections the following year, FPÖThe vote fell even more, from 30% to a dismal 7%. By then, under Norbert Hofer, the party had been bitterly contested between a more conciliatory faction close to Mr Hofer and followers of the openly xenophobic Mr Kickl. Torn apart by the struggle. In June 2021, Mr. Hofer threw in the towel. Mr Kickl became the undisputed boss of the party.

“The international focus on Jörg Haider means that once he leaves, the alarm about his party goes away,” said Andreas Peham, a far-right expert at the Austrian Resistance Documentation Centre. (Haidel died in a car crash in 2008 at the age of 58.) But the party’s views have since become more radical. For example, Mr Kickl has been ambivalent about his party’s approach to the identitarian movement, Europe’s answer to the US alt-right with its anti-Muslim, anti-media and anti-immigrant messages.

Because of this aggressive leaning, other larger parties say they will refuse to consider any kind of coalition with the party FPÖSo even if it emerges as the strongest party in next year’s general election, it can only return to power if other party leaders change their minds.They once repelled Haider and his Feel sorry. But in 2000, German Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel ÖVP leader, Break that taboo. In fact, FPÖ It has been part of coalition governments four times in the past 40 years.

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