BZÖ ends Stronach speculations

The Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) has finally dismissed the circulating rumours about teaming up with a billionaire businessman.

The party, which sensationally won almost 11 per cent in the national election of 2008, could drop out of parliament in next year’s ballot. Only two per cent of Austrians plan to support the party, according to a new Karmasin study. At least four per cent of participating voters must be convinced to make it into parliament.

Newspapers have speculated that the faction of Josef Bucher might cooperate with Franz Stronach, the founder of Austrian-Canadian car parts manufacturer Magna International. Now a spokesman for the party said no one within the faction had such intentions. Referring to rumours that Stronach might inject millions of Euros into the BZÖ’s election campaign, he announced: “The BZÖ is not for sale.”

The BZÖ spokesman also said it was not true that Bucher considered leaving the party to run for a new faction Stronach might establish. The entrepreneur – who previously poured tens of millions of Euros into football clubs FK Austria Vienna and Wiener Neustadt – said in a series of recent interviews he was ready to financially support new political movements.

Stronach said: “We need an intellectual revolution to change things for the better in time. (…) I am ready to invest several million Euros if I get the feeling that there are the right people with the right political programme.”

Asked for his economic and political visions, the Styrian businessman said: “We need a simple and fair taxation system. (…) Investments in Austria should not be taxed. Like this, we could create jobs.”

Now former Styrian People’s Party (ÖVP) councillor Herbert Paierl is hotly tipped to front a new party subsidised by Stronach. But the critics of the Magna International founder underlined that none of his engagements in Austrian football led to long-lasting success. They claimed that his political ambitions would eventually end in the same way.

Public opinion investigations show that all five parliament parties must fear the various recently established political movements of which many focus on online activism for more direct democracy and media free from political interference. One of the most popular new groups is Mein Österreich (My Austria). The organisers of the project have not yet decided whether to nominate candidates for next year’s national vote.

Various feuds between government members have immensely worsened the reputation of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP). Chancellor Werner Faymann, who heads the SPÖ since 2008, said: “We, the politicians, must treat each other differently. Hatred is utterly inappropriate. No one would dare to go to hospitals were doctors communicating with each other the way we do.”

A recent survey revealed that 26 per cent of Austrian voters were less strongly interested in interior politics than two or three years ago. The same public opinion research showed that more than four in 10 (42 per cent) said they lost all trust in Austria’s politicians in the past few years.