Hofer is to inherit Strache as chairman

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Norbert Hofer

The FPÖ politician has lost in the presidential election in 2016 against incumbent Alexander Van der Bellen.


(Photo: AP)

Graz Two weeks before the Nationalrat elections in Austria, the right-wing Freedom Party elects a new chairman at its congress in Graz. The designated party leader Norbert Hofer should also officially become the successor of Heinz-Christian Strache at the head of the right-wing populists. Strache resigned on 18 May after the publication of the “Ibiza video” as vice-chancellor and also as party leader.

Hofer is considered the friendly face of the party and thus represented in recent years a counterpoint to actors such as Strache or ex-Interior Minister Herbert Kickl dar. Observers of Austrian politics but doubt that the FPÖ with him at the top will accept a more moderate attitude – especially in the event that the FPÖ should go to the opposition after the election. “Then Hofer will probably strike sharper tones,” says political scientist Kathrin Stainer-Hämmerle.

It will also be exciting how many delegates give Hofer their vote. The 48-year-old, who barely missed out on incumbent Alexander Van der Bellen in the 2016 presidential election, can not see the party as closed behind him as Strache or Kickl. “Herbert Kickl has clearly better contacts to the group and to the officials. Kickl is the more integrative person inside the FPÖ, “says Stainer-Hämmerle. In the election campaign, Hofer and Kickl recently formed a kind of dual leadership: On the one hand the smart and obliging Hofer, on the other hand the much louder and more polarizing ex-Minister of the Interior.

The election of the new FPÖ chairman is necessary because Strache resigned after the publication of the “Ibiza video” by “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “Spiegel” as party leader and vice-chancellor. The secretly recorded video in the summer of 2017 shows a conversation of Strache with an alleged Russian oligarchs niece. Strache promised the woman economic benefits in return for donations to the FPÖ. After Strache's resignation, the entire ÖVP-FPÖ coalition collapsed. On 29th September new elections take place in the Alpine republic.

More: In Austria will be elected on September 29th. For Sebastian Kurz chances are good to return to the Chancellery. The only question is which coalition partner the ÖVP leader will govern.

Austria (t) FPÖ (t) Heinz-Christian Strache (t) Norbert Hofer (t) Herbert Kickl (t) Party (t) Election (t) Politician (t) Corruption (t) Election campaign (t) Extremism (t) Government (t) Freedom Party of Austria (t) Austrian People's Party (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung (t) Heinz-Christian Strache (t) Norbert Hofer (t) Herbert Kickl

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