How will Strache's departure affect the FPÖ?
Heinz-Christian Strache, former FPÖ leader and Austrian vice-chancellor, has announced his retirement from politics but said that he will remain a member of the party. The FPÖ suspended Strache over the party financing scandal. The right-wing populist party suffered bitter losses in the elections to the National Council on Sunday. Journalists take stock of the party's prospects.
Hard times ahead for the FPÖ
The FPÖ will have a hard time replacing former party leader Strache after he announced his retirement from politics on Tuesday, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung predicts:
“The party's new leader Norbert Hofer is less controversial, and with his moderate approach he's more attractive to centrist voters. Again and again we hear that he secured the party's best national results with 35 percent of the vote in the first round of the 2016 presidential elections. Back then, however, he regularly appeared together with Strache, who constantly drummed up support for Hofer on his popular social media channels.”
A battered party with good prospects
The FPÖ must prevent a confrontation with its leader of many years, Strache, to avoid the party splitting up, the Wiener Zeitung believes:
“The FPÖ needs a solution with Strache, not against him. A public airing of all the internal events of the last 14 years would be a nightmare for the 'new FPÖ'. And a feast for the media and its opponents. What kind of FPÖ would be left standing at the end of such a self-destructive journey is entirely unclear. Nevertheless the prospects for the FPÖ are not so grim: with migration, security and anger over 'those at the top' it has topics with staying power, and with Norbert Hofer and Herbert Kickl it has people who appeal to its own target group - which is more than the SPÖ currently has to offer.”