FPÖ Vienna rakes in seven million Euros

The Viennese department of the Freedom Party (FPÖ) will get seven million Euros in public subsidies this year following its strong gains in the recent city parliament election.Political scientist Hubert Sickinger said today (Tues) the right-wing party’s Vienna branch will have received seven million Euros by the end of 2011. Sickinger stressed this indicates a year on year raise of 70 per cent.The FPÖ came second in the 10 October ballot with 25.77 per cent, up from 14.8 per cent in the 2005 election.Sickinger said he expected the People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Greens to lay off staff due to a decline of subsidies following their poor performances in the city parliament and district representation ballot.The ÖVP was knocked from second to third place (13.99 per cent). The conservative party garnered 18.8 per cent five years ago. Its result in the recent vote was the worst in Vienna since the end of the war.The Greens remained in fourth with 12.64 per cent, down by 1.99 per cent to their performance in 2005.The ÖVP Vienna will receive four million Euros this year. This is 22 per cent less than in 2009, according to Sickinger. The political scientist also said the city’s Green branch will suffer a 10 per cent year on year subsidiary decline to 3.7 million Euros.The SPÖ in Vienna, which lost its city parliament majority in the vote earlier this month, will have received 12 million Euros by the end of this year, around 10 per cent less than it garnered in 2009. The Viennese Social Democrats bagged 49.1 per cent in the 2005 ballot. The party of Mayor Michael Häupl only claimed 44.34 per cent on 10 October. It was the second time in the post-war history of the party’s Vienna branch that it lost its majority in seats.Sickinger, an expert of party-financing issues, stressed that the city of Vienna forked out significantly more in the controversial party-subsidising scheme than the state.He explained the Republic of Austria paid 16.2 million Euros a year to all parties represented in the federal parliament. The factions’ share depends on their performances in elections.The federal capital, meanwhile, backs the parties represented in the city parliament with almost 27 million Euros every year.Additional payments are being made to the party’s academies. The federal SPÖ-ÖVP government coalition agreed recently that these subsidies will be controlled stricter in the future after it emerged that the FP֒s academy offered free of charge courses in which Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff claimed that Islam was “hostile” and the Koran “evil”.The FPÖ was in serious financial difficulties after its late chief Jörg Haider walked out and set up a right-wing rival, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ). Now the FP֒s Vienna branch is expected to support its own federal department to launch a string of campaigns during the next three years focusing on the alleged wrongdoings of the government coalition.The party of Heinz-Christian Strache is thought to have a good chance at gaining second place in the next general elections which are planned for 2013. The FPÖ claimed 17.5 per cent in the 2008 general vote, up by 6.5 per cent compared to its performance in the 2006 ballot.Its Vienna branch was expected to do well in the 10 October ballot, but its result – a 10.94 per cent improvement compared to 2005 – came as a surprise for most analysts.Researchers found that it was the figure of Strache himself who prompted 38 per cent of FPÖ voters to support the right wing party. The politician, who has headed the FPÖ on a federal level since 2005, has called the city’s Social Democrats “arrogant”. He claimed the ruling party neglected the city’s Austrian residents, while doing more for “immigrants who are unwilling to integrate”.One of the Viennese FP֒s poster slogans called for “more courage for our Viennese blood”. While left-wing rivals and NGOs were shocked by the slogan, neo-Nazis communicating on a website run by a server in the United States to evade Austrian laws signalised support for the party’s far-right ideology.Attention on its campaigning even increased shortly ahead of the election when Lower Austrian dairy firm NÖM decided to label its milk in both German and Turkish. The company stressed the “Süt” cartons were only distributed to Turkish supermarkets in eastern Austria, while some shoppers claimed having come across them in Austrian shops.NÖM pointed out that various products from Great Britain, Hungary and other countries had been on sale in Austria for many years. The Baden-based company was nevertheless swamped with protest letters, while thousands backed calls to boycott its products on social networks like Facebook.Strache claimed many immigrants would just create “parallel societies” in Vienna. He also warned of a “growing Islamisation” of Europe, and made clear ahead of the ballot he would press on with organising a referendum on a law prohibiting the construction of further mosques in the city.There are hundreds of houses of prayers for the Muslim community across Austria, but only four mosques with minarets, of which one was built in Vienna in the 1970s. Half a million of the 8.5 million residents of the country and one out of 10 people living in Vienna are Muslims.Anas Schakfeh, president of the Austrian Islamic Denomination (IGGiÖ), may have helped the FPÖ gain even more attention by calling for the construction of mosques featuring distinctive minarets in all nine provincial capitals of Austria.FPÖ general secretary Harald Vilimsky hit back by calling mosques “hotbeds of radical Islam”, while ÖVP Youth Organisation chief Johannes Kurz suggested sermons in all mosques in the country must be held in German. ÖVP Vienna chief Christine Marek allegedly tried to win the support of former FPÖ backers by suggesting burkas should be banned.Strache criticised the SPÖ once more when talks about a possible cooperation in the Viennese city parliament were ended after only about an hour last week. The right-winger predicted that his party would garner more than 30 percentage points in the 2015 Vienna vote since the city’s Social Democrats were “ignoring people’s desires”.The FPÖ boss appealed to the SPÖ to stop “isolating” his party. Strache has previously made clear his personal target was to become mayor of the capital one day before becoming the country’s first chancellor elected by the FPÖ.Strache, who is popular among many young people, caused controversy by recording songs in some of the most previous elections in which he attacked his political rivals. The FPÖ also published comic books in which he is portrayed as a hero defending Austria from Turks trying to “occupy” the country.The FPÖ leader was pressured into publishing the results of two recent drug tests which confirmed he had not taken any illegal substances during the past eight months. Strache provided newspapers with the analysis of urine and hair samples just days ahead of the Vienna city parliament election in a bid to rubbish increasing rumours he was taking drugs.The right-winger also explained he had decided to wear a bulletproof vest on the campaign trail since he received several murder threats. Magazines and newspapers, meanwhile, claimed previously convicted skinheads were working as security personnel at FPÖ campaign events.Meanwhile, Viennese Economy Chamber (WKW) chief Brigitte Jank has rubbished speculations she may become vice mayor of Vienna in a possible coalition between the SPÖ and the ÖVP. The real estate manager has previously warned against a cooperation between the Social Democrats and the Greens in the city. The influential businesswoman claimed such a cooperation would put the city into a difficult position as far as economic issues were regarded.Jank is understood to be on good terms with Häupl. The SPÖ Vienna boss, who became mayor in 1994, reportedly prefers cooperating with the ÖVP. It would be the second SPÖ-ÖVP coalition in the city since the end of World War Two following a five-year spell which ended in 2001.Greens Vienna boss Maria Vassilakou meanwhile made clear she could imagine taking over the city’s integration agendas if the SPÖ and her party come to an agreement.Liberal Forum (LiF) founder Heide Schmidt, former SPÖ Education Minister Rudolf Scholten and diplomat Wolfgang Petritsch joined a new online movement campaigning for a SPÖ-Green partnership.Greens Vienna councillor David Ellensohn said he was “delighted but not surprised” such an initiative has been set up. Ellensohn pointed out that the campaign – represented on www.rotgruen.at – was not initiated by his party.A coalition between the SPÖ and the Greens in Vienna would be the first such cooperation on provincial level. The parties have never formed a coalition on federal level in the past.