FPÖ claims Fischer tries to distract from real problems

The Freedom Party (FPÖ) accused incumbent president Heinz Fischer of trying to distract from other issues as he called for a reform of the president’s legislature.Fischer suggested over the weekend that the federal president’s legislative period could be extended to eight years with no possibility of running for a second term in office.The legislature of the president is currently six years, and incumbent presidents can run for another six years in office. Fischer, a former Social Democratic (SPÖ) MP and science minister, took office in 2004. Four of his five predecessors stayed in office for two terms.Now FPÖ general secretary Herbert Kickl has attacked Fischer over his proposal.He said today (Mon): “This is a cheap, populist attempt to distract from topics that really matter such as interior security, taxes and sexual abuse which he has failed to speak out about.”Greens constitution issues spokeswoman Daniela Musiol meanwhile said: “Generally, we are open to discuss everything. But we need to check whether changes make sense.”A spokesman for the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) said it was “open for talks”. The opposition party claimed Fischer’s suggestion could lead to massive cost cuts.The People’s Party (ÖVP) and the SPÖ – who form a government coalition – said they were ready to hold talks, but only after the presidential elections of 25 April.Meanwhile the FP֒s presidential candidate Barbara Rosenkranz announced she would start her campaign tour in Lower Austrian capital St. Pölten on 9 April. Rosenkranz, who heads the right-wing party’s Lower Austrian branch plans to hold campaign events at all nine provinces.Fischer is seen around 70 per cent by analysts, but the campaign of mother-of-ten Rosenkranz caused more public attention than Fischer’s bid for a second term.Rosenkranz was recently forced to declare under oath she had never doubted the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Research has shown that the controversy around her contradicting statements over Austria’s Nazi past harmed her campaign. Analysts said many young Austrians who have voted for the FPÖ consider Rosenkranz as being too far right on the political scale to support her.An OGM poll revealed earlier this month that 41 per cent of FPÖ supporters considered her declaration under oath as “not believable”. Only 38 per cent said they did, while an overall 66 per cent of the 500 people the agency spoke to said it was not credible for them.Apart from Fischer and Rosenkranz, Die Christen (The Christians) party chief Rudolf Gehring will run for president. His party failed to enter the Austrian parliament in the 2008 general election as it garnered just 0.8 per cent.