Stronach wants to fund political revolution

A renowned businessman has explained why he is ready to financially support a new political movement.

Frank Stronach, the founder of automotive industry giant Magna International, made headlines a few days ago by claiming to be determined to provide a new political party of young people with “a lot of money”. Now the Austrian-Canadian entrepreneur – who went from rags to riches – told Die Presse: “I am ready to invest several million Euros, if I get the feeling that there are the right people with the right political programme.”

Stronach, 79, said rethinking must happen in Austria. “We need an intellectual revolution to change things for the better in time. (…) We need a simple and fair taxation system. I suggest a flat rate. Investments in Austria should not be taxed. Like this, we could create jobs. Employees should benefit from their employers’ successes. This would ensure everyone follows the same goals,” Stronach said today.

The Magna International founder, who left his home province of Styria in the 1950s to settle in Canada, warned that Austria would become impoverished if the debt burden kept increasing. He said the country must slash its “bloated bureaucracy” and stop building up wealth on debts. “We need economic growth to get out of this but Austria lacks structures which would help to become competitive again,” Stronach told Die Presse.

Stronach said many people have contacted him after his revelation of being at the ready to generously subsidise a political movement headed by students and engaged young people. He said lots of young Austrians would like to get active but were uncertain about how to start while others might feel discouraged due to the “poor politics of many years”.

Stronach – who claimed a few months ago that a new party focusing on economic issues would have his ideological and financial backing – said speaking to Die Presse: “Many students realise that the older generation will not change anything. A substantial change can only be achieved by the youth.”

Opinion leaders, former politicians, businesspeople and artists teamed up in past months to establish several reform groups, think tanks and organisations with plans to hold referendums for more direct democracy, more efficiency in the public sector and a change of the current electoral system. However, none of the new movements has yet clearly declared plans to run in next year’s federal ballot. Some of them said they could well imagine to join the campaign trail but were cautious not because of poor chances for success but their underfunding.

Public opinion research agency Karmasin found last November that 26 per cent of Austrians admitted to being less strongly interested in politics than two or three years ago. Even 42 per cent said they lost trust in Austrian lawmakers. Around 57 per cent told the agency they would appreciate having their say more often in form of referendums while 12 per cent spoke out in favour of an earlier than planned date for the next general election.

GfK was instructed by the Federation of Industries to interview 500 Austrians last month. The research group found that 24 per cent thought Austria failed in playing an important role in Europe despite its comparably strong economy and central location which could be beneficial to being a negotiator. Around eight in 10 of those who issued a negative verdict on their home country’s standing said the main reason was a lack of politicians with class and character.