Former BZÖ members plan to run in Vienna vote with new party

The crisis of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) seems to continue with members of its Vienna branch founding a new party.Christian Neubacher, provincial manager of the FBZ – Freies Bündnis Zukunft (Free Alliance for the Future) party said today (Tues) the new party was set up last month and had 35 members at the moment.Neubacher explained the decision to leave the right-wing party and start up a new movement was made after “ongoing internal conflicts” between members and its leadership.He revealed all but two BZÖ district chiefs have joined the FBZ, and made clear that the plan was to run in the autumn city elections.Josef Bucher, federal head of the BZÖ, is yet to announce whether his party would run in the election. The BZÖ – which was founded in 2005 by late right-wing spearhead Jörg Haider – has its stronghold in Carinthia where Haider was governor.But the party’s ambitions to become an established force in all nine provinces suffered a blow when hundreds of members of its Carinthian branch left last year to found the Carinthian Freedom Party (FPK).Carinthian Governor Gerhard Dörfler and his deputy Uwe Scheuch both left the BZÖ to found the FPK after falling out with Bucher over his rather liberal political views.After analysts initially claimed these developments would most likely lead to the BZ֒s demise, the FPK recently lost in popularity.Prosecutors are investigating Scheuch after a recorded phone conversation suggests he was offering Austrian citizenship to Russian investors if they ensured around five per cent of their investment value would be donated to his party, which was the BZÖ when the conversation is alleged to have taken place.Scheuch claimed he could not remember whether the conversation took place and accused BZÖ bosses of being behind a “campaign” against himself.Stefan Petzner meanwhile announced he would resign as general secretary of the BZÖ to focus on the party’s Carinthian branch. Newspapers speculated for weeks Petzner was considering leaving the post.The BZÖ is seen at around just two per cent in polls at the moment. This would not be enough to enter the Austrian parliament in general elections. The party garnered 10.7 per cent in the 2008 election when Haider was its front runner – while making clear he had no plans to become an MP in order to remain governor of Carinthia.Haider died in a drink drive car crash less than a month after the election.Bucher has been trying to establish the BZÖ as a right-wing economics-orientated party, while Heinz-Christian Strache has had more success with his far-right policies heading the Freedom Party (FPÖ) Haider has led for years.