Stronach’s Gloss and Glory, 5 March
by Michael Völker
All together 130,000 people in Lower Austria and Carinthia voted this Sunday [3 March] for Team Stronach. That is indeed a strong showing. Even prior to the elections, this ‘test-tube’ party was, in fact, able to form a parliamentary group, and yet has achieved even more in these ballots: Not only did it succeed in entering the two regional parliaments, but Team Stronach immediately gained a seat in both regional governments. The election result in Lower Austria – [where it became] the third-strongest political force, ahead of the FPÖ and the Green Party – earned the new party a mandate in the Bundesrat [Upper House of the Austrian Parliament]. Welcome to the Establishment.
This is the more astonishing, because Team Stronach so far has no political achievements and provided no valid election manifesto - beyond phrases – to which either its officials or the voters could refer. So far, what remains are more or less hollow slogans – ‘Truth, Transparency and Fairness’ – and Frank Stronach, the person
For a Review of Frank Stronach, see "The Fable of Frank Stronach"
Now what, Heinz-Christian Strache?, 5 March
by Oliver Pink
It was a kind of Zero Hour for the Carnithian Freedom Party. After a loss of 28 per cent [in popular support], Christian Ragger took over the party on Monday morning [4 March]. […] Not least, because he is among the FPK Regional Ministers with comparable little involvement in recent scandals [...].
The shine has worn off the winner [Strache]. Yet, that’s what a right-wing populist needs, in order to climb from one victory to another. The new-style protest party, as the FPÖ was long regarded, is now Team Stronach. From a standing start it has overtaken the FPÖ in Lower Austria. In Carinthia, half the votes for the Stronach party came from former FPK-voters.
If this trend continues until the general election, it could be a rude awakening for the FPÖ then as well, whose leader has been dreaming of the top job. […]
by Meret Baumann
After years of being dominated by the far-right [FPK], Carinthia is host to a new political experiment. For the first time in Austria’s history, three political parties will form a coalition at the regional level: the Social Democrats (SPÖ), the People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Green Party. The breakthrough came on Wednesday [27 March] after marathon negotiations. […] At the beginning of next week the so-called ‘Kenya Coalition’ will be proclaimed.
The Social Democrats, who won the regional elections at the beginning of March and nominated Peter Kaiser as Governor, were already in agreement with the Green Party after initial discussions. But although a SPÖ-Green coalition would have a wafer-thin majority, both parties wanted to clear up contentious economic issues with the [Conservative] ÖVP and thereby achieve a constitutional-amendment majority [in the regional parliament].
Carinthia might once again become a political testing ground with a triple coalition government – the Freedom Party’s ability to govern was initially tested here. According to recent surveys, it remains uncertain whether the grand coalition of SPÖ and ÖVP could achieve a [parliamentary] majority in the general elections in autumn, due to many protest-voters. […]
An agreement with Stronach appears improbable for all other parties at present, while the Freedom Party is at least for the SPÖ an impossible choice. The Green Party, however, clearly demonstrates that it can work together with both the Social Democrats and the ÖVP at the regional level.