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Title: The spectre of Austria : reappraising the rise of the Freedom Party from 1986 to 2000
Author: Adamson, Goran
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis analyses the reasons behind the electoral successes of the FPO between 1986, when Jorg Haider assumed the leadership of the party, and 2000, when the party entered into a government coalition with the OVP. A widely held view is that the FPO's rise was caused predominantly by the party's right-wing extremist tendencies. The importance of the role of the party's populist critique of the Austrian elite has often been underestimated. The literature and public debate about the FPO is largely dominated by ideological assumptions rather than detailed empirical inquiry. This thesis evaluates the relative importance of the right-wing extremist and populist dimensions, drawing on a wide range of qualitative and quantitative sources, such as party documents, its yearbooks, speeches and statements of prominent members, election results and voter surveys. An in-depth analysis of the data demonstrates that the extent of the expression of right- wing extremist views in the party's rhetoric, programmes and policies was smaller than commonly assumed. Voters were drawn towards the party primarily by its critique of the SPO/OVP elite rule that had characterised the Austrian political landscape since the Second World War. By highlighting and often exaggerating the shortcomings of the elite and Austrian corporatism, the party under Jorg Haider managed to appeal to the electorate. With their support, the FPO became the second largest political party at the national elections in 1999, thereby ending the SPO/OVP dual elite rule. Once the FPO joined the OVP-led government, the party quickly started to disintegrate resulting ultimately in a split of the party - a fate shared with other populist parties. The FPO's rise to power and particularly the emerging new right-wing extremist parties in Europe call for a thorough investigation of the underlying factors behind the parties' success. The analysis and findings of this thesis therefore are of relevance beyond the Austrian context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available