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Austria's International Position after the End of the Cold War

 | 
Günter Bischof
, 
Ferdinand Karlhofer

Nontopical essays

The Rise and Decline and Rise of Austria’s Radical Right

Ferdinand Karlhofer

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Introduction

Up to some ten years ago, with good reason the Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs – FPÖ) was considered a special case in Europe’s landscape of political parties.1 In fact, the pace with which Jörg Haider immediately after having unseated his predecessor in 1986 turned the party which had hitherto strived for a liberal profile into a populist one was astounding. Under his leadership the former five-percent party soon achieved double-digit results in national elections, peaking at twenty-seven percent of the vote in the 1999 election, and so becoming the second-strongest party. The FPÖ’s rapid rise from a fringe party to, at least for a while, “Europe’s most successful extreme-right party”2 caught international attention when, in 2000, it entered into a government coalition with the ÖVP. Indeed, the FPÖ was not only the first successful right-wing populist party in Europe in terms of votes, but also the first one in government — a fact that made it a...

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