The far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) is reportedly planning to open an office in Germany to help build a similarly populist party with nationwide appeal.
The FPÖ is planning to work together with the populist right-wing group Pro Deutschland, active mainly in North Rhine-Westphalia. Pro Deutschland has already had some success in local elections there as ‘Pro Cologne’.
FPÖ general secretary Harald Vilimsky and Pro Deutschland head Markus Beisicht are planning to present a long-term strategy at a joint press conference on Wednesday in the western German town of Leverkusen.
Their aim is to establish “a patriotic movement on a national level” based on the existing structures in Cologne and North Rhine-Westphalia. Speaking to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, FPÖ state party secretary Hans-Jörg Jenewein confirmed that his party intended to “significantly expand” its activities in Germany, but he refused to confirm or deny the plan to open an office.
The FPÖ has cooperated with the regional sections of Pro Deutschland since 2007, but the FPÖ’s recent success in local elections in Vienna – where it won 27 percent of the vote and became the second strongest party in October – have significantly increased its resources and ability to help its German counterparts.
It is thought that Europe’s populist right-wing parties are building a network in preparation for the 2014 European elections. Established right-wing political parties like the FPÖ, the Vlaams Belang of Belgium and the Dansk Folkeparti of Denmark need a similarly strong populist party in Germany in order to build a faction that can challenge in the European parliament.
The FPÖ has repeatedly said that the extremist German People’s Union (DVU) and the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) would not be suitable, despite the NPD’s limited success in state elections. This makes an alliance with Pro Deutschland the only alternative.
“We have a lot in common,” Jenewein said. “The ‘Pro’ movement should achieve in Germany what we have achieved in Austria.”