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Far-right surge fears as Gudenus set to head FP Vienna

An up-and-coming right-winger has been elected as executive chief of the Freedom Party (FP) in the city parliament of Vienna.

Johann Gudenus received unanimous support by the party board in a summit in Mauerbach near Vienna today (Weds). Gudenus will lead the FP֒s delegation in the city parliament after the partys 10 October election campaign front runner Heinz-Christian Strache decided to remain a member of the federal parliament (MEP).

The right-wing party bagged 25.77 per cent in the recent election, up by 10.94 per cent, and Strache who heads it both on federal level and in Vienna has been identified as the key to success. Strache is immensely popular among many young people, but also has more and more support among pensioners angered by various decisions of the ruling Social Democrats (SP).

Gudenus is regarded as the partys "crown prince". He has been given the potential to one day succeed Strache whose chances to become federal chancellor are seen as soaring.

Gudenus formerly headed the FP֒s federal youth organisation and caused a stir with various controversial claims regarding integration and crime.

"Young Turks unwilling to integrate are the problem (in Vienna). They are more violent and ready to carry out crimes," he said shortly ahead of last months city parliament ballot.

Some political analysts have accused Gudenus of having used certain terms popular in the German Third Reich which are understood by neo-Nazis as "codes" showing support of their views.

All parties but the FP, which campaigned against "immigrants unwilling to integrate", suffered losses in the recent election. Strache claimed his party had the chance to win more than 40 per cent in the 2015 city ballot if the SP did not change its policy which currently rules out any kind of cooperation with the right-wing party.

The party headed by Mayor Michael Hupl was expected to approach the Peoples Party (VP) for coalition talks after, with 44,24 per cent, it lost its absolute majority in seats in the 10 October ballot. The VP Viennas share shrank by 4.78 per cent to 13.99 per cent.

The Viennese Social Democrats however invited the Greens (2010 vote result: 12.64 per cent, down by 1.99 per cent) for talks which ended in a coalition agreement earlier this week.

Federal Greens boss Eva Glawischnig said she regarded the cooperation as a "unique chance" for her party, adding that serious changes to the federal political landscape were possible.

Many columnists, meanwhile, warned that this coalition may help the FP to more support as a turnaround in favour of cyclists and public transport is expected. The FP has traditionally strong support among motorists pressure groups.

Immigration is regarded as the other major crucial issue considering the contrary views of the SP-Greens coalition and the right-wing party which is now led by Gudenus in the federal capitals parliament.

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  • Luis v Wetzler JD wrote on 18. 11. 2010 from Buenos Aires, Argentina about "Far-right surge fears as ..."

    I do not like any ultra nationalist in power, like the so-called Freedom Party or his young new leader Johann Gudenus. Austria in times of the Monarchy was much more an open society, the Habsburg dynasty reigned for everybody within the realm, and no distinctions were made amongst its subjects. The Empire was a multiethnic and multinational society, and everyone had the right to practice his or hers own religion. The last Kaiser Karl I was following the steps of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, when he tried to federalize the monarchy, before the collapse of the Empire. Even after he was crowned in Budapest, he went to Pressburg (Bratislava now) and was the first sovereign in Europe to be invited to a Synagogue, where he spoke about the loyalty of the Jewish population in times of war. What happened afterwards we know it quite well, a terrible struggle between the pan German elements, who wanted the Anschluss and those who were opposed to such unnatural union. Austria is still a multinational society, Vienna is a city where people whose ancestors were from all over the Empire, they are living for generations in the city and other regions of Austria. I am afraid that the totalitarian temptation is still in certain minds, for these persons every foreigner is an enemy, and Austria should be only for Austrians. But who are really Austrians? We must remember that most citizens are the result of more than 7 centuries of Habsburg rule. Austrians should be proud of this legacy, most of the good things that Austria still has were originated in the good and old times of the monarchy.

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