Liberal Forum

   / Liberales Forum
(LiF)
   The ascendancy of Jörg Haider in the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) sharpened differences between the traditionally liberal and national factions of the movement. Haider’s opposition to Austrian membership in the European Union and his open hostility to the increased foreign presence in Austrian society led Heide Schmidt, the Freedom Party presidential candidate in 1992, to establish a new party, the Liberal Forum, on 4 February 1993. Schmidt and other dissidents within the FPÖ supported the integration of Austria into the economy of Western Europe and the general concerns for human rights that liberalism had historically defended. Both the Austrian People’s Party and the Socialist Party of Austria backed the creation of the LiF and its request for recognition as a parliamentary faction, a status that entitled it to government financial subsidies. The FPÖ opposed all these steps.
   The Liberal Forum failed to gain much traction with Austrian voters. Like Haider’s FPÖ, the Forum has often appeared to be exploiting opportunistic advantage rather than advancing a coherent program in its electoral campaigns. Though elections in 1994 and 1995 gave the Forum a smattering of seats in the parliament, it won none in 1999. Efforts to make a political comeback in the federal elections of 2008 did nothing to improve the movement’s position.
   See also Political Parties.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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