Right-wingers angered by ‘monarchist’ Fischer

The Freedom Party (FPÖ) has questioned Federal President Heinz Fischer’s approach to democracy over controversial statements in a recent interview.Fischer – a former Social Democratic (SPÖ) president of the federal parliament and science minister – told the Kurier newspaper some days ago that he would not have to inaugurate FPÖ boss Heinz-Christian Strache as federal chancellor if the right-wing party comes first in the next general election.Fischer made clear: “There is no legal entitlement to the inauguration as chancellor.”Now FPÖ General Secretary Harald Vilimsky hit back at the president over his remarks. Vilimsky claimed Fischer’s perception of his political post was “wrong and out of touch with the real world.”Vilimsky – who said Fischer’s statements would confirm that his approach to the role as president was a “monarchist” one – claimed his party would only benefit from the remarks.The FPÖ is currently neck and neck with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) in polls. The right-wing party, which is headed by Strache since 2005 – is seen a few percentage points ahead of the People’s Party (ÖVP) which is going through a serious crisis after alleged corruption scandals of two members of the European Parliament (MEP) and the resignation of Josef Pröll as chairman, vice chancellor and finance minister.Vilimsky also said today (Tues) that Fischer “would have a problem” if he decides to refuse swearing in Strache in a possible victory in the next federal ballot which is scheduled for 2013. The general secretary of the FPÖ however admitted that Fischer would not breach any regulations of the Austrian constitution by acting that way.Fischer’s statements create memories of the way Thomas Klestil acted when he was due to inaugurate a coalition government of the ÖVP under Wolfgang Schüssel with the FPÖ in 2000. The late president – who passed away seven years ago – swore in the cabinet with a stone-still frown after the ÖVP failed to agree with the SPÖ about a continuation of their cooperation.The coalition agreement between the ÖVP and the FPÖ made headlines all over the world and caused an outcry among left-wing Austrians and Europe’s political elite. Thousands of Austrians took to the streets for months after the government was sworn in.Klestil had hoped for another SPÖ-ÖVP administration, but saw himself forced to swear in the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition. Surveys have shown that the FPÖ would come out even stronger if the president calls for early elections due to the lengthy and unfruitful negotiations about a cooperation between the ÖVP and the Social Democrats of Viktor Klima. Klestil eventually decided to reject Hilmar Kabas and Thomas Prinzhorn – two representatives of the FP֒s far-right branch – as ministers.Meanwhile, new ÖVP Justice Minister Beatrix Karl identified the ambition to win back the people’s trust in the country’s judicial system as her chief priority. The former science minister was pressed to speak out after polls revealed that many Austrians lost their faith in the Austrian authorities due to the lack of progress in investigations of business fraud cases involving leading politicians and influential businesspeople.Karl succeeded Claudia Bandion-Ortner. The former judge – who headed some of Austria’s most spectacular business bankruptcy trials – has been regarded as unsuitable for day to day politics by many columnists before new ÖVP boss Michael Spindelegger announced that Karl will take over.Bandion-Ortner’s critics said she made herself a laughing stock when she asked Viennese officials to let her chauffeur use traffic lanes usually restricted to buses in 2009. The ex-minister eventually withdrew her request.