Freedom Party of Austria Surges In Local Elections, Boosted By Migrant Crisis

Freedom Party of Austria

Prompted by the migrant crisis, the anti-mass migration Freedom Party of Austria has recorded stunning gains in Sunday’s regional elections.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has doubled its vote share and seat numbers following yesterday’s state elections in Upper Austria, the country’s leading industrial region.

Results that have now been released show the populist party made the biggest gains of any party in the region. The FPÖ recorded 30.4 per cent of the vote securing 18 seats, whereas in 2009’s elections the figures were a less impressive 15.3 per cent and nine seats.

Although saying the party had been “optimistic since the start,” FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache (pictured above), admitting the results had exceeded expectations, said “I’m overwhelmed by this amazing election.”

The conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) retained their leading position in the region, but lost over ten per cent of its vote dropping seven seats (recording 36.4 per cent and 21 seats). Saying he would enter coalition talks with all parties, the leader of the ÖVP in Upper Austria, Josef Pühringer, told ORF television:

“Today’s election was not about Upper Austria, but about one topic only, namely asylum, the winners amplified the understandable fears and concerns of the people.”

Strache has spoken in favour of preferential treatment for Christian migrants in order to protect what he calls Austria’s western character. He has also argued for a fence to built on Austria’s border to stem migrant flows.

The election comes at a significant time for the FPÖ and Heinz-Christian Strache. In recent times their national stock has risen considerably.

Next month Strache is standing for election as mayor of Vienna, traditionally a Social Democrat stronghold,reports Reuters. With a recent rise in support for the FPÖ in the city, Strache has predicted his party will become the strongest there.

In June, the FPÖ joined other right wing parties, such as Geert Wilders’ Dutch Freedom Party and Marine Le Pen’s National Front, to form a the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group in the European Parliament.

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