Fact, finally: FPÖ decapitated, leaders form new BZÖ 

After weeks of endless speculation, it has happened, some ten days earlier than expected. At a press conference this afternoon, the leading circle of the notorious Austrian far-right party FPÖ, which was still loyal to former chairman Jörg Haider, made the following announcements:
  1. All government ministers as well as the Carinthian local party organisation (headed by provincial governor Jörg Haider) leave the FPÖ effective immediately and found a new party, cumbersomly dubbed the BZÖ (Bündnis für die Zukunft Österreichs, something like Union for the Future of Austria).
  2. The new party intends to continue the coalition with the conservative ÖVP, theoretically re-colouring the coalition from Schwarz-Blau (Black-Blue) into Schwarz-Orange (Black-Orange) - the BZÖ is copying the colour of the recent revolution in Ukraine.
  3. Jörg Haider becomes chairman of the new party, returning to the top federal function after four years of voluntary consignment to his native Carinthia province. Haider intends to appoint an acting chairman to relieve himself of everyday duties, most likely the loyal Haider-ite and spokesman of the current parliamentary faction, moderate Herbert Scheibner.
  4. The new balance of power in parliament is not entirely clear. Scheibner confirmed to journalists that the coalition would maintain its majority in parliament, which can happen only if very few of the current MPs decide to go with the excluded right-wingers who have the option to stay in charge of the "old" FPÖ.
  5. As I suspected earlier, the BZÖ-gang has declared that the party debts should stay with the old FPÖ. This and other issues of party financing will probably be fought out in the courts.
  6. Haider declared that the BZÖ will not be ideologically focussed on old dogma, but will attempt to find answers to current intellectual challenges.
  7. Apart from the Carinthians, not a single regional branch of the FPÖ has so far come out in support of the BZÖ. In fact, the danger of losing a vote among regional organisations against right-winger H.C. Strache is what forced the group around Haider to leave the party already before the extraordinary party assembly, which they themselves had scheduled for April 23rd.
This is all brand-new information, and several aspects of the situation are not clear:

Will the right-wingers take charge of the existing FPÖ under a chairman Strache and enter into direct competition with the BZÖ under Haider? According to pollsters, this would put both party-branches in danger of failing to clear the 4% hurdle for representation in the next parliament.

Will chancellor Schüssel dissolve the coalition and head for general elections before the summer? Currently this seems likely.


Schüssel says in an interview today that he has no problems working with Haider who is a"constructive personality" and that is the kind of people he (Schüssel) wants to work with.

The horror, the horror. Do you remember the good all days when KHG and his girlfriends were all we had to worry about?

Bengt O.

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