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2005-03-08

Out with the Right of the Right 

Fulfilling our obligation to international readers, this blog is in newscasting mode today, dutifully on the heels of the mass media:

The far-right FPÖ, junior party in the current coalition government, is once again undergoing serious upheavals, after yet another stunning electoral defeat (3% in municipal elections in Lower Austria province). At a board meeting last night, the most prominent proponents of the far-right wing of this far-right party were removed from the party's highest decision-making bodies, namely Mr Strache (chairman of the Vienna branch organisation, and until yesterday vice-chairman of the national party), Mr Mölzer (the FPÖ's only MEP), Mr Stadler, and several other lesser figures. It is noteworthy that the expelled group claims [DE] it left on its own will in an effort to dump the rotten party-structure with its debts on the remaining core group of people loyal to Jörg Haider.

Mr Haider meanwhile has announced [DE] to provincial journalists that the FPÖ will be re-founded, so as to be able to exclude unwelcome members in a comfortable manner, as well as, presumably, for efficient disposal of the party-debts. Whether this announcement will be implemented is, as always, completely unpredictable and will largely depend on Mr Haider's emotional ups and downs in the coming weeks. [UPDATE: Did I say in the coming WEEKS? 24 hours later, Mr Haider has disassociated himself from his plan to re-found the party.]

What is interesting here is that the FPÖ now seems to enter uncharted territory in terms of political constituency. So far, the dominant prediction for the FPÖ was that after having lost its mass appeal, its vote would shrink further until it became a 2%-5% party of perennial die-hard right-extremists. If it loses this constituency, in theory a re-founded FPÖ should start to look like a much inferior copy of the ÖVP, the conservative party that won 40% at the last general election and dominates the current government. Whether such a nondescript FPÖ-light will have a chance to clear the 4% threshold required for representation in parliament is anyone's guess.


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