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Liberal pioneer Heide Schmidt returns as LIF top dog

The political party Liberal Forum (LIF) have announced its founder Heide Schmidt will be the party’s top candidate in the September elections.

Strabag head Hans Peter Haselsteiner, another liberal spearhead, will run for the LIF in the election as well and be the party's spokesman for economy policy.

Schmidt, who left politics in 1999, said in a press conference on Friday that she was tempted back into the hotseat by what she sees as a good chance for the liberals to re-enter Parliament.

She said, "I didn’t plan to come back into politics again. But the current political situation in this country has convinced me. There is a strong need for a liberal party."

The LIF presents itself as an alternative to the other parties who they say are surrendering to tabloid papers.

If the party achieves its goal to win seats in parliament, Schmidt even sees the chance of forming a government coalition with other parties as a means to avoid the involvement of right-wing populist parties like the FPÖ and BZÖ in government responsibilities.

Schmidt and Haselsteiner already gave the first statements about the campaign’s content at the press conference. According to the current inflation high, the liberals will address this issue like the other parties.

Their approach is a tax reform that introduces the liberals’ model of basic financial security for everyone.

Asked about the campaign budget, Haselsteiner said, "It will be quite small, but sufficient to make us heard in this campaign."

The entrepreneur will pay for part of the costs himself. In total, he expects financial resources of 1.5 million Euros to be to the party’s disposition in the campaign.

The Liberal Forum was founded by Heide Schmidt in 1993. Being an FPÖ MP by that time, she refused to support party leader Jörg Haider’s anti-foreigner policy.

Together with four more FPÖ MPs she left the party and founded the Liberal Forum. Doing this gave the LIF 5 MP seats straight away.

The party was successful in the following elections, but lost the status of a parliamentary party after a disappointing showing in the 1999 elections.

Since then, the party have not managed to secure any seats in parliament. LIF chairman Alexander Zach ran on a SPÖ ticket in 2006 and is currently a Member of the Austrian Parliament.

He will remain chairman of the party and support the top candidates in this year’s election.

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