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BZ to stay in Carinthia despite FPK 'revolt'

By Thomas Hochwarter

BZ boss Josef Bucher today (Mon) announced plans to form a Carinthian department after the partys provincial branch joined the new FPK.

Former Carinthian Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZ) leader Uwe Scheuch received 90.5 per cent of votes by delegates at a provincial party summit on Saturday which marked the split among the right-wing rivals.

Analysts said the BZ founded by late Freedom Party (FP) chief Jrg Haider in 2005 had little chance of survival as Scheuchs new Carinthian Freedom Party (FPK) prepares to cooperate with the FP at federal level.

But BZ chief Bucher said today a new BZ Carinthia department would be set up and a summit would be held on 30 January.

"I see a potential of around 20 per cent in Carinthia," he said, adding that the federal BZ֒s general secretary Stefan Petzner would become its head.

Bucher called for early elections in the province following recent scandals including the nationalisation of the Hypo Group Alpe-Adria (HGAA). The institute was saved from bankruptcy as it emerged that the province had 23 billion Euros of liability for the bank.

The Carinthian branch of the Peoples Party (VP) meanwhile said it wanted to negotiate the governing contract again with FPK bosses "as the circumstances have changed".

But VP Carinthia leader Josef Martinz stressed his party did not plan to end the cooperation.

New FPK chief Uwe Scheuch and BZ boss Josef Bucher fell out after Bucher introduced a new, more moderate party ideology. Bucher hoped the party would become more popular with "moderate right-wing liberal" policies.

Scheuch has however always represented the partys far-right wing.

His announcement last month of plans to found a new party cooperating with the right-wing FP in the federal parliament in Vienna was a shock to BZ bosses.

Bucher labelled the move "an ice-cold revolt" that reminded him "of times when it was fashionable for politicians to wear [knee-length] boots."

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