How Did Haider and the Freedom Party Gain Power?

JÖRG HAIDER'S Freedom Party (FPÖ) gained support after Haider took it over
in 1986, changing it from a grouping of left-over fascists to the
most 'successful' far-right organisation in Europe.

Its policies mingle far-right ideas - racism, an authoritarian state and
anti-trade union policy - with flexible populist phraseology. However the
FPÖ's disgusting ideas gained backing after the 'grand coalition', made up
of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the conservative Austrian
People's Party (ÖVP) took office in 1986.

This capitalist bloc privatised the former nationalised industries,
doubled unemployment, and carried out two major cuts packages. Their
neo-liberal agenda included joining the EU.

These cutbacks shocked the working class. The SPÖ, in power since 1970,
had created a social democratic model paralleling Sweden1s. But the
'stability' of this former social democratic haven is gone today. Up to a
fifth of the population live on the poverty line!

This generation sees the SPÖ only as a party of cutbacks. There has been
only limited resistance from below - the ÖGB trade union federation was
tied into the SPÖ government1s policies, often actively pushing through
the cuts.

Some capitalists now want to avoid involving the SPÖ and the unions, so
the FPÖ demands the end of trade union influence and of ideas of social

The SPÖ has lost its traditional members and youth. Only 40% of workers
and 25% of under-30s voted SPÖ in last year1s elections.

But the FPÖ can only partially fill the vacuum. It has sunk no roots into
the workers1 movement - less than 1% of shop stewards identify themselves
with the FPÖ's trade union fraction.

Haider has also not gained from the coalition parties1 declining
membership. With about 40.000 members, (the same level as in the 1980s)
the FPÖ remains a protest party. Up till now it has had no significant

But the election result polarised Austria. Up to 60% reject the Œgrand
coalition1 - but even more opposed the FPÖ1s participation in government.

Not one of the established parties could stand up to Haider's rise. The
new government will try to step up the recent years1 turn to the right -
especially the repressive, restrictive immigration policy.

The new political instability will raise the question of what political
alternative can be posed. The ISM's sister organisation Sozialistiche Linkspartei (SLP) will
argue for a socialist alternative and a new workers' party as the only way

Youth Against Racism in Europe Oppose Haider

Austrian Workers History of Anti-Fascism

Austrian Socialists Analyse Haider

Is the FPO Fascist?

Youth Against Racism in Europe Web Site

Committee for a Workers' International Web Site