Alliance for the Future of Austria
|Alliance for the Future of Austria
Bündnis Zukunft Österreich
|Founded||3 April 2005|
|Split from||Freedom Party of Austria|
|Youth wing||Generation of the Future of Austria|
|European Parliament group||Non-Inscrits|
|Politics of Austria
The Alliance for the Future of Austria (German: Bündnis Zukunft Österreich), abbreviated to BZÖ, is a political party in Austria. BZÖ has lost all its seats in the National Council following the 2013 Austrian legislative elections.
The BZÖ was founded on 3 April 2005 by Jörg Haider as a moderate splinter from the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and immediately took the FPÖ's place in coalition with the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). The party won seven seats at the 2006 election, ending its involvement in government. The September 2008 election saw the BZÖ breakthrough with 21 seats, while the FPÖ's vote also increased. 13 days after the election, Haider died in a car crash; in April 2009, Josef Bucher became leader. Under Bucher's leadership, the party moved towards economic liberalism, leading to the secession of the party's Carinthia branch to form the Freedom Party in Carinthia in December 2009.
The party under Bucher is economically liberal and socially conservative.3 The party aims to take ground from the ÖVP by defending the middle class and free markets: supporting a flat tax (currently a model with 44% which exists as calculator tool on the party's website), privatisation of utilities, and large reductions in both bureaucracy and the government debt. The party takes a more moderate position than the FPÖ on immigration – proposing the introduction of a 'Green card' – and is eurosceptic. Unlike the FPÖ, the BZÖ is notably for the reintroduction of tuition fees, abandoning conscription and the adoption of a system of Common Security and Defence Policy in the European union.
- 1 History
- 2 Policies
- 3 Political support
- 4 Organisation
- 5 Election results
- 6 Leadership
- 7 See also
- 8 Footnotes
- 9 External links
The BZÖ was founded as the result of considerable disagreements within the Freedom Party between Jörg Haider, the Freedom Party's chair person Ursula Haubner and Vice Chancellor Hubert Gorbach on the one side and the circle around Heinz-Christian Strache, Andreas Mölzer, and Ewald Stadler on the other. The former group broke off and founded the new party.
The party's charter was deposited at the Federal Ministry for the Interior on 3 April 2005, as is required by Austrian law, and the foundation of the party was announced by former members of the Freedom Party the following day. On 6 April 2005, the party's charter was published in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung, and the initial conference took place on 17 April in Salzburg where the party's programme was agreed upon.
The BZÖ became the first party of the Second Republic to immediately join a government without taking part in an election. In the coalition with the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), the BZÖ held the vice-chancellorship and two ministries.
The first test for the BZÖ came in a series of Landtag elections in October 2005. In the elections to the Styrian state parliament on 2 October 2005, the BZÖ only obtained a 1.7% share of votes and clearly failed to enter the Landtag, while the FPÖ, with 4.6%, failed by a much smaller margin. The BZÖ's leading candidate was Michael Schmid, a former Austrian minister of infrastructure.
The BZÖ did not stand in the October 2005 elections in Burgenland. In the October 23 elections in Vienna, it was led by former Lower Austrian state government member Hans Jörg Schimanek. However, it captured only 1.2% of votes, while the FPÖ, led by national party chairman Heinz-Christian Strache, surprised pollsters with a share of 14.9%.
Since the BZÖ performed poorly in state elections it participated in shortly after its formation, many commentators believed that it would disappear after the 2006 general election. However, the party obtained 4.1% of the vote and 7 seats in the National Council in 2006. The party was led by Peter Westenthaler from June 2006 until his removal as Leader in August 2008 due to his conviction for perjury.
As the result of these developments, prominent party members who did not clearly take sides called upon leaders to mend the rift. However, since the BZÖ subsequently did not gain recognition in the electorate, it was assumed that FPÖ Chairman Heinz-Christian Strache would have been in a better position to reunite the group under his leadership.citation needed This changed with the general elections of 28 September 2008.
Haider formally re-assumed the party chairmanship on 30 August 2008, and was the party's candidate for Chancellor of Austria in snap general elections that took place on 28 September 2008. In those elections, the BZÖ scored a major victory taking 522,933 votes nationally translating into 10.70% of the total national vote. The party increased its representation from 7 to 21 seats in the National Council. However, 13 days after the election, Haider died in a car crash.
After Haider's death, the party was led by a temporary leadership team consisting of Stefan Petzner (Haider's former spokesman) and later on Herbert Scheibner (former Defence minister).
On March 2009 elections were held in Salzburg (the party achieved 3.7% there, failed to enter Landtag but entered some Carinthian state and municipal elections where the party reached 44.9% and kept the Landeshauptmann, which took place the same day.
On 26 April 2009, a party congress in Linz elected Josef Bucher as the new leader. In April 2009, Ewald Stadler became party leader of Lower Austria, Gerhard Huber party leader of the Tyrol, and Christoph Hagen party leader of Vorarlberg in May 2009.citation needed
But in autumn the party reached only 1.2% in the elections in Vorarlberg and 2.83% at the Upper Austrian state elections (where the party had high hopes because of Ursula Hauber, the sister of Haider was leading candidate) held on 27 September but failed to enter the Landtage.9
Following Bucher's efforts to change the ideological direction of the BZÖ, many of the Carinthian party members broke away and on 16 December 2009 reorganised as the Freedom Party in Carinthia (distinct from the federal FPÖ). The Carinthian BZÖ was re-established on 30 January 2010.31011
On 2 May 2010 the Alliance for the Future of Austria held a convention in Vienna, where their first Bündnisprogramm was designed and agreed upon by open ballot in unanimity. In mid-2010 there were rumours that the Young Liberals Austria (JuLiS) (which had been without a mother party for one year) might cooperate with the Alliance given its more moderate orientation; the Liberal leader Scherak stated there had been talks, but ruled out this possibility, telling the media that "people like Grosz and Stadler would conflict with their elementary laws".12
At the May 2010 election in Styria, the BZÖ achieved 2.98% with Gerald Grosz as leading candidate for the Landtag. At the October 2010 Vienna state elections, the Alliance for the Future of Austria had nominated Walter Sonnleitner as leading candidate to check the new right-wing liberal course in action and achieved 1,33% of the Viennese voters. After that, Grosz criticised that the 2.98% achieved in Styria were a triumph in comparison to the 1.33% in Vienna and that he was concerned about the next general election. Grosz, along with Peter Westenthaler and Harald Fischl, criticised the party's centre-right liberal platform, as Grosz urged the party to return to a 'Haider course', emphasising foreign policy instead of economic liberalism.13
On 7 January 2011 Bucher said about Grosz that he may leave anytime and Grosz later assured that they had agreed to einen "bürgerlichen Kurs rechts der Mitte" (a "middle class course right of the centre") and he carried it with fully.14 Bucher and Grosz later really were in unity and presented a replacement of the Zivildienst (in case of an abolition of compulsory military which would also make the Zivildienst vain) they named it "Bürgerhilfe" and claimed that it would work with help of volunteers that should gain 1300 euro brutto income and tax privileges and easier entry in public service and other to make the Bürgerhilfe attractive for volunteers, on 12 January 2011.15
To show its freshness the Alliance changed its branding which is now an orange rectangle with the name written in white inside (the former was the Austrian flag in Swoosh-style) at a meeting on 30 January 2011 in Carinthia to celebrate the first anniversary the refounding of the host party, BZÖ Kärnten (the Carinthian BZÖ). The party also launched a new campaign "Genug gezahlt!" (paid enough!)16 meaning that taxpayers are fed up with paying new taxes (like the million for the financial safety net for Greece).17
In September 2011, the party launched a campaign against EU fiscal union, quoting the Bible – "They know not what they do" (Luke 23:34) – to criticise the SPÖ, ÖVP and EU 'bosses'.18 The party abolished the position of secretary-general on 13 September. One day later, this caused Member of Parliament Robert Lugar to leave the Alliance's caucus, stating that he did not like the course of the party; however Gerald Grosz claimed that Lugar had wanted to become secretary-general and said he was surprised by Lugar's "hurt vanity").19
It also was the first time in the party's history to make use of Online advertising by using of banners (to reach more people with their campaign) and videos.
They also parodied the Three Kings in a cartoon released on Youtube (whereas the kings were representing Greece, Ireland and the banks so that Austrian villagers had to give them all their money until they were naked (criticising the present situation caused by the European Stability Mechanism and bank rescues). The spot was also shown on privately owned TV channels VOX, RTL, RTL II and Austria9.20
Furthermore the so-called "Bucher-Plan" was introduced which contains an immediate payment stop for bankrupt EU countries an exclusion of Greece from the EU and a whole new safe and independent Monetary Zone of strong countries consisting of Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.21
In June 2012 Bucher stated that he wouldn't want to pay for the debts of southern European countries and that the Alliance for the Future of Austria were now for a withdrawal from the eurozone, opposing the fiscal union.22
Currently the Carinthian BZÖ (Haiders former governing party) holds 800 members, 3 MPs, 7 Vice-Mayors, 2 city councils and 35 municipal councils.23
Since 22 October the party has 13 MPs left(due to former MPs renegading to the FPK and Team Stronach), Josef Bucher stated that this to be a "lucky number for the party" and brought in a criminal charge against Stronach and former party member Lugar.24
During the campaign for the state elections in Carinthia the BZÖ released a video where the carinthian Governor Gerhard Dörfler and parts of the state government were compared with former dictators or communist leaders who were toppled by the people including Husni Mubarak and Erich Honecker, the governor Dörfler was compared with George W. Bush which the BZÖ described to be "most hated US President". However on 15 February 2013 the court decided that the video must be banned from the internet else its immediate execution will be enforced.25
After the general elections of 29 September 2013 with Josef Bucher as the party's candidate for Chancellor of Austria the support for the BZÖ dropped to 164,599 votes nationally translating only 3.5% of the total national vote, leading to the lose of all seats in the national council. On 2 October 2013 Josef Bucher stepped down as party leader.26
In the aftermarth of the national election 2013, two former party members Stefan Petzner and Ewald Stadler were expelled from the Alliance by new leader Gerald Grosz. Stadler still having support as the remaining Member of European Parliament then dissolved the lower Austrian BZÖ just to form an new party "Die Reformkonservativen -REKOS".2728
On 15 October 2009, the party described its political position as centre-right, expressing their more moderate stance compared with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Under Joseph Bucher, the party has been economically liberal and socially conservative.3 In October 2008, parliamentary chairman Bucher claimed that he wanted to move the party towards the centre-right ÖVP.29 In office, Bucher announced that he wanted the party to become the Austrian version of the German Free Democratic Party, but qualified this statement, saying he didn't agree with the details of the FDP manifesto.3
The BZÖ describes itself as "ideologiefrei, aber zukunftsorientiert und wertebewusst" (free from ideology, but forward-looking and conscious of traditional values). From its beginning, the party's leader and programme changed very often, until Josef Bucher became the party leader. This brought the first installation of the "Bündnisprogramm" in Vienna which was accepted in open ballot vote by 600 attending members, and a political orientation described now as "rechtsliberal" (right-wing liberal).
Especially the Mittelstand, Civil and political rights, stop of compulsory membership in the State and personal Freedom are main topics the Alliance wants to focus on. The BZÖ is especially against new taxes and for more reforms.30
The BZÖ supports reducing the reduction of government debt, which stands at 80% of gross domestic product.32 The party supports the privatisation of utilities and parts of the Austrian Federal Railways.33 Bucher has proposed abolishing a regulation for each new one passed.34 The party advocates 'radical clearing' of bureaucracy, allowing the ending of 25,000 civil service positions.35 Bucher has proposed a 44% flat tax on earnings above €14.235,28 with a further allowance of €9,000 for each child.3536
In April 2012 Alliance for the Future of Austria leader Bucher started a so-called online initiative under the name "Rettet unser Gold" (Save our gold) and demanded the retrieval of Austria's holdings of gold and a poll on the website of the party. stated that 72% had enough of the secrecy around Austrias holdings of gold.37
The party supports the introduction of the Green card model like in the United States. This policy was introduced by Bucher in 2009 in recognition of Austria's reliance on immigration: separating it from the FPÖ.38
Unlike the ÖVP and FPÖ the BZÖ supports an abandoning of conscription and the creation of a Volunteer military consisting of so-called "Berufssoldaten" and a strong Militia component, according to vice-chairman Herbert Scheibner, former Defence minister.39
However in the official BZÖ party program accession to NATO is not even mentioned, the BZÖ in fact demands increasing of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and admitted to the adaption of a system of Common Security and Defence Policy in the European union.41
The BZÖ demanded a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, like the FPÖ, it advocates withdrawal from the Eurozone and the introduction of a hard north Euro and a soft south Euro.3 It opposes Turkish accession to the EU.42
Also there is a major differences between FPÖ and BZÖ about the future of the Austrian federal council. While the FPÖ would like to enhance it to a real "Länderkammer" and remove sliping in of its competences by the so-called "Landeshauptleute-Konferenz" (conference of the Landeshauptleute) the BZÖ calles for a bureaucratic and political reform abolishing the federal council and replacing its competences through the Landeshauptleutekonferenz and getting rid of the nine provincial parliaments. The idea behind this according to Bucher is "to end the politics of blockade of the provinces" furthermore he states "governors and a small number of councillors should represent their home regions interests after such a reform".43
The party has polled around 5–6% since early 2011,444546 having won 10% at the 2008 election. The party is particularly strong in Carinthia, where the party won 45% at the 2009 election and still polls over 10%, even after the secession of the Freedom Party in Carinthia.17
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Each state has a branch of the BZÖ that exists and acts semi-independently of the federal party. The state branches of the Freedom Party reacted in different ways to the creation of the BZÖ. The Freedom Party in Carinthia, which enjoyed a great deal of autonomy under that party's statutes, was the only state branch which became a part of the BZÖ en masse.citation needed
The Freedom Party in Upper Austria originally planned to decouple itself from the federal party and go its own way without joining the BZÖ for the time being.citation needed There were differing legal interpretations of what such a decoupling might entail and what the exact relationship is between the state and federal Freedom Party.clarification needed Consequently, on 18 April 2005, the locks on the offices of the Freedom Party in Upper Austria were changed twice in the space of one evening.citation needed The first change of locks was on the orders of interim federal leader Hilmar Kabas on the basis that the federal party was listed as owner in the land registry. Günther Steinkellner, the leader of the Freedom Party in Upper Austria (which considers itself independent from the federal party and does not accept Hilmar Kabas' expulsion of Steinkellner from the party) instituted legal action for criminal damage and had the locks changed again.citation needed In April 2006, the convention of the Freedom Party of Upper Austria decided to rejoin the federal FPÖ. Former party expulsions have been revoked.citation needed
The state parties split in Vienna, the Tyrol, and Styria. The leaders in these three states decided to remain a part of the FPÖ, although some members of these state groups showed sympathy towards the BZÖ. In Vienna, nine of the 21 FPÖ members in the Landtag want to form their own group Bündnis Zukunft Wien (Alliance for the Future of Vienna) with close links to the BZÖ.citation needed In Tyrol, both Freedom Party deputies in the Landtag crossed over to the BZÖ, whilst the state party leader Gerald Hauser continued on course with the Freedom Party and threatened to expel the two deputies from the Freedom Party.citation needed In Styria, three of the seven deputies joined the BZÖ.citation needed
These events have brought sharp criticism from Barbara Rosenkranz, leader of the Lower Austrian Freedom Party and a deputy of the National Council. Her state party remained within the Freedom Party, which is also the case with regard to Salzburg.citation needed The state party in Burgenland also unanimously declared they would remain within the Freedom Party.citation needed The Freedom Party in Vorarlberg also initially announced its intention to go its own way, but then decided a few days later to remain a part of the Freedom Party so as not to lose its official funding.citation needed
The BZÖ has a youth wing, called the Generation of the Future of Austria (Generation Zukunft Österreich), a pensioner's wing, called the Independent Seniors Platform (Unabhängige Seniorenplattform), a families wing, called the Family for the Future of Austria (Familie Zukunft Österreich),47 a farmers wing called "BZÖ Bauern" a labours wing called "BZÖ Arbeitnehmer" (at the moment in Carinthia only with Sigisbert Dolinschek as chairman)48 as well as a business wing called "BZÖ Unternehmer".
At the initial party conference on 17 April 2005, Jörg Haider was elected leader of the Alliance. Hubert Gorbach, the Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Infrastructure was the parliamentary leader, with Heike Trammer and Karin Gastinger as his deputies.citation needed Uwe Scheuch, a member of the National Council and former General Secretary of the Freedom Party, is the Alliance's spokesman. The BZÖ has chosen orange as its party colour. On 24 September 2006 Karin Gastinger left the BZÖ, staying Minister of Justice.citation needed
Other prominent members are:
- Social Security Minister and former Freedom Party leader Ursula Haubner (Jörg Haider's sister)
- Thomas Prinzhorn, the Deputy President of the National Council
- Herbert Scheibner, the leader of the Freedom Party group in the National Council
However, of the above-named politicians only Herbert Scheibner has resigned from the Freedom Party. The other intend to belong to both parties, the Freedom Party and the BZÖ.citation needed The Freedom Party, however, has announced that it will not accept members who belong to other parties.citation needed Following this announcement, on 7 April 2008, Hilmar Kabas, the Freedom Party's interim leader, expelled Jörg Haider, who had been the Freedom Party's federal leader and main ideologue for years.citation needed Along with Haider, Martin Strutz, the Freedom Party's leader in Carinthia, and the former parliamentary group leader Kurt Scheuch were expelled. Kabas stated that anyone who was a member of another party could no longer be a member of the Freedom Party.citation needed
Jörg Haider remained leader or "Bündnisobmann" of the BZÖ until his death in October 2008.
- Jörg Haider (2005–2006)
- Peter Westenthaler (2006–2008)
- Jörg Haider (August 2008 – 11 October 2008)
- Stefan Petzner (acting only; 12 October 2008 – 19 November 2008)
- Herbert Scheibner (acting only; 19 November 2008 – 26 April 2009)
- Josef Bucher (26 April 2009 – 2 October 2013)
- Gerald Grosz (2 October 2013)
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2011)|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alliance for the Future of Austria.|
- (German) Alliance for the Future of Austria official website
- (German) 44% flat tax calculator tool (official party website)