FPÖ-internal feud hots up as Strache stays away from WWII commemoration

A far-right member of the European Parliament (MEP) has called on Freedom Party (FPÖ) boss Heinz-Christian Strache not to deny the roots of his party.FPÖ MEP Andreas Mölzer told the Kurier newspaper today (Weds) Strache “must not be afraid” of pictures showing him with members of controversial student fraternities. Several FPÖ members of the Austrian parliament (MPs) belong to these controversial student unions. Several associations linked to the FPÖ are criticised by left-wingers for their failure to disassociate themselves from the Nazi mindset. Strache is a member of the Vandalia group himself.Mölzer’s appeal comes shortly after Strache called off his attendance of a disputed gathering of right-wing fraternities to commemorate the German Wehrmacht soldiers who lost their lives in World War Two (WWII). The FPÖ chief’s refusal to give a reason for his U-turn triggered wild speculations about turmoil within his party.FPÖ-internal critics have claimed the party chairman failed to take advantage of the public arguments the two government coalition parties, the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP), have engaged in for months. The FPÖ did well in various elections in the last few months despite setting a strict focus on anti-immigration campaigning while ignoring various other hot-button issues.Referring to Strache’s decision to stay away from the right-wing student associations’ WWII meeting, Mölzer warned the FPÖ head of being on the wrong track if he decided to yield to “polemical anti-fascism.”Asked whether he thinks Strache was scared of attending the gathering which sparks anti-Nazi street marches each year, Mölzer said: “I don’t think so. He told me he could not make it. I acknowledged that.”Political analysts have said that the FPÖ is split over how to adjust its general agenda at future ballots after its bid to heave MP Barbara Rosenkranz into the presidential office last year. The ultra-conservative mother-of-ten won just 16 per cent in the election in April 2010. Former SPÖ official Heinz Fischer was confirmed in office by 79 per cent.Columnists claimed Strache would have had the potential to force Fischer into a second round of voting since he managed to hit the right note with many young voters disappointed with the country’s political elite.Reports have it that the FP֒s far-right branch was behind the nomination of Rosenkranz who saw herself pressed to publish a certificate attested by a notary to make clear she never supported fascist ideas.Strache may have had second thoughts about aiming for power himself as the past has shown that the FPÖ and other right-wing parties across Europe suffered immense losses after having accepted responsibility in government coalitions.The FP֒s cooperation with the ÖVP in 2000 even resulted in the right-wing party’s split five years later when its former leader, late right-winger Jörg Haider, founded the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ). The BZÖ experienced immense difficulties in positioning itself before Haider returned to the federal political landscape as its front runner in the general vote in 2008. After having created a more modest and liberal image for both himself and his new political movement, the BZÖ bagged 10.7 per cent, up sharply by 6.6 per cent. However, recent polls show that the party which is now headed by Josef Bucher may drop out of the parliament in the next federal election.Meanwhile, FPÖ deputy head Norbert Hofer is masterminding the creation of the FP֒s new manifesto which is expected to be less harshly worded than the current one as far as the party’s policy towards foreigners is regarded.