Heinz-Christian Strache

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Heinz-Christian Strache (2017)
Signature of Heinz-Christian Strache

Heinz-Christian Strache (born June 12, 1969 in Vienna ), often called HC Strache in Austria , is an Austrian politician who was active for the right-wing populist FPÖ until 2019 . From 2006 he was club chairman of his party in the National Council and as such from 2008 also opposition leader in parliament before he became Vice Chancellor in December 2017 and Federal Minister for Public Service and Sport of the Federal Government Brief I on 8 January 2018 . For many years he was federal party leader of the FPÖ, regional party leader of the FPÖ Vienna and district party leader of the 3rd district of Vienna . On May 18, 2019, Strache announced his resignation from the office of Vice Chancellor and as FPÖ party chairman as a result of the Ibiza affair . After his party's defeat in the 2019 National Council election and allegations of misappropriating party funds, Strache announced his complete withdrawal from politics on October 1, 2019 and suspended his membership in the FPÖ. After Strache's press conference, his membership was suspended at a party executive committee meeting on the same day. On December 13, 2019, he was expelled from the FPÖ. On February 20, 2020, the candidacy for the 2020 Vienna election for the Team HC Strache party , at that time still under the name DAÖ , was announced.

Life

Origin and family

Heinz-Christian Strache's father's family came from Reichenberg in the Bohemian Sudetenland (now the Czech Republic). The great grandparents first studied at the University of Prague . According to him, they were expelled from there and fled to Vienna. The great-grandfather was a graduate engineer and died as a slave laborer of a heart attack between 1945 and 1947.

Erich Wild, Strache's maternal grandfather, came from Heidelberg , came to Neunkirchen (Lower Austria) as a Wehrmacht soldier when Austria was annexed and met his future wife there. Both married during a leave from the front, and Strache's mother was born in 1944. In 1945 the grandfather died, ten years later the grandmother. Strache's mother eventually grew up with her aunt.

Marion Strache, a druggist , practically raised her son in Vienna's Erdberg district ( 3rd district ) on Keinergasse. His father Heinz-Roland Strache graduated from the French Lycée Français de Vienne and first studied world trade . However, he broke off his studies, left the family behind and traveled the world as a dropout , tour guide and writer.

Education and professional activities

Strache spent his primary and secondary school time in boarding school . First he attended the Catholic elementary school in the Neulandschule Laaerberg from 1975 to 1979 , then for four years the secondary school of the school brothers in Strebersdorf . After secondary school, he attended the Weiss commercial school in the 3rd district of  Vienna , which he dropped out after a year. Instead, he completed a four-year apprenticeship as a dental technician . After completing his apprenticeship, Strache did his eight-month military service in the armed forces with the hunters and underwent preparatory cadre training (vbK) as a sergeant in the militia with the paramedics at the Van Swieten barracks in Vienna-Stammersdorf. His last rank was corporal . Strache acquired the university entrance qualification and briefly began studying history at the University of Vienna . Without a degree, Strache went into business for himself and founded the dental technology company Dental Labor Strache GmbH in 1993 , which lasted until 1998. From 2000 he worked for two years as an authorized signatory at Care Partners Werbeberatungs GmbH and was also its partner until 2004 .

Contacts with right-wing extremists

At the age of 15, Strache became a member of the striking and German national school association Wiener pennale fraternity Vandalia. There he came into contact with right-wing extremists such as Gottfried Küssel , the head of the later banned VAPO , and Franz Radl . He fell in love with Gudrun, a daughter of Norbert Burger , with whom he was in a relationship for seven years. Together with her, he spent many weekends with the Burger family in Kirchberg am Wechsel . Strache later referred to him as a “father substitute”. Through contact with him, he met other right-wing extremists.

Around 1985/1986 Strache took part in national tent camps organized by fraternity members in Carinthia and participated in Zweikirchen near Sankt Veit an der Glan with several Austrian neo-Nazis , including Andreas Thierry and Jürgen Hatzenbichler , in exercises in military clothing with rubber truncheons, suspected pump guns and Guns. Strache's contacts and activities were proven on August 23, 2007 by seven photographs and two witness statements, one of them by Ewald Stadler . Strache had previously submitted five of the photos to the ORF himself , which he explained as a harmless paintball game to reduce aggression with participants who were “innocent” at the time. The remaining two photos in the series showed the participants with weapons that are unusual for paintball; they were released in 2008.

On December 31, 1989, he took part in a meeting of the neo-Nazi Wiking youth near Fulda . Strache said later that, he was New Year's Eve 1989 together with representatives of the Viking Youth in an action at the inner-German border participated to care packages to throw for GDR citizens across the border. He was never a member of the Wiking Youth and has not had any contact with them since then. Strache was arrested there by the Federal Border Police, but this was only done to determine his identity.

In 1990, as a member of the FPÖ, Strache attended an election campaign event by the group No to the flood of foreigners, after which the police checked him. The group's top candidate was right-wing extremist Horst Rosenkranz , while Holocaust denier Gerd Honsik and Strache's friend Franz Radl were also candidates on their electoral list . The group was not allowed to vote because of its re-activism .

Also in 1990 Strache took part in an event organized by the right-wing extremist DVU in Passau . The German police took a blank gun from him. Strache explained in 2007 after the incident became known that he had carried it with him to protect himself from "bald heads" and had to pay a fine for it.

In an address book that was confiscated from right-wing extremist Franz Radl's house in 1993, a "Heinrich Strache" was also noted. According to a daughter of NDP boss Norbert Burger , Strache was named during this time. Strache commented that these were "stories". Something is being constructed.

In 2009, Strache confirmed contact with Küssel and his participation in a kind of military sport exercise in Lower Austria in a monograph by Nina Horaczek and Claudia Reiterer . He could not remember the exact year, but he broke off participation and drove home in horror. “In the course of all this hustle and bustle, it was clear to me that these are people, that is madness. For me this is, so to speak, the area where I can't go with anything. "

In June 2019, the Viennese weekly newspaper Falter revealed that Strache had been active in the right-wing extremist scene for much longer than previously known - namely for at least five years. In November 1990 he signed a postcard from the right-wing fraternity Olympia in memory of the former Wehrmacht officer, “ Knight's Cross ” and Olympian Robert Colli with “ German greetings ” and “ Heil Deutschland” under his Vandalia association name “Heinrich d [er] Glück” . So this happened at a time when he was "already 21 years old and an FPÖ functionary in Vienna for over a year".

Political career

Viennese city and state politician (1991-2005)

In the early 1990s, Strache met Herbert Güntner, the dentist and then FPÖ district chairman in Vienna-Landstrasse . Through this acquaintance he came into contact with the FPÖ and became a member of the party. At the age of 21 he became the youngest district councilor in Vienna in 1991 , and three years later he replaced Güntner as FPÖ district chairman of the 3rd district.

In 1996 he resigned from his position as a district councilor, became a member of the Vienna state parliament and a member of the regional party executive of the FPÖ Vienna. Between 1997 and 1998 he was also the executive chairman of the Ring of Freedom Youth (RFJ). In the state parliament he campaigned against the “city citizenship” decided by the SPÖ and the Greens and the right to vote for foreigners in Vienna. Together with the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), the Freedom Party successfully sued against the right to vote for non- EU citizens at the Constitutional Court , which classified the law as unconstitutional.

In 2004, Strache was elected to succeed Hilmar Kabas as party chairman of the Vienna FPÖ and was a member of the federal party executive. At that time, discussions about possible EU accession negotiations with Turkey were taking place and the Austrian government did not have a unified position on this. While the then Carinthian FPÖ governor Jörg Haider endorsed accession negotiations, Strache rejected accession negotiations and called for a referendum. At the time, Strache took the position that Turkey was not part of Europe.

Federal Party Chairman of the FPÖ (2005-2019)

After the FPÖ lost the election in several federal states, Strache was expected to stand for the post of federal party chairman against Jörg Haider's sister Ursula Haubner . However, there was no open power struggle between Haider and Strache because Haider and all FPÖ government members left the FPÖ in April 2005 and founded the Alliance Future Austria (BZÖ). Hilmar Kabas then took over the party leadership on an interim basis and handed it over to Strache on April 23, 2005, who was elected federal party leader at the FPÖ party congress.

Despite the turmoil surrounding the FPÖ and polls between seven and ten percent, it was able to surprisingly achieve 14.8 percent of the votes and 13 municipal council seats in the subsequent state and municipal council elections in Vienna in 2005 . While this meant a loss of 5.3 percent, the decline was significantly less than the survey results had predicted. The FPÖ became the third strongest party in the Viennese state parliament and Strache, in the meantime similar to Karl-Heinz Grasser with the abbreviation KHG or Hans-Peter Martin with HPM in his party's political marketing mostly with the abbreviation HC Strache , became club chairman of the FPÖ in the Vienna state parliament.

Several non-governmental organizations and daily newspapers classified the FPÖ's election campaign in Vienna in 2005 under his leadership as xenophobic . In the statement “The SPÖ does not make politics for the poorest of the poor, but for the warmest of the warm” by Strache at the start of the FPÖ's election campaign, the head of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights Manfred Nowak saw discrimination against homosexuals. During the election campaign, Strache had the election slogan "Vienna must not become Istanbul !" He was referring to the art installation “ Kanak Attack. The Third Siege of the Turks ”by artist Feridun Zaimoglu at the Kunsthalle Wien , where the museum was covered by Turkish flags.

As federal party chairman, Strache took part in the annual ORF summer talks for the first time in the summer of 2005 , where Armin Wolf was able to prove to him that a summary of the book " Der Waldgang " by Ernst Jünger on the Strache homepage was plagiarism by the former neo-Nazi and journalist Jürgen Hatzenbichler was.

In the election campaign for the 2006 National Council election , the FPÖ ran a campaign with Strache as the top candidate using advertisements and posters, including statements such as “German instead of nix understand” and “Daham instead of Islam”. The campaign, which was largely designed by the FPÖ General Secretary Herbert Kickl , was classified by several organizations as xenophobic and racist.

Strache and his party achieved 11.03 percent of the vote in the 2006 National Council election , which was a slight increase of 1.02 percent compared to the 2002 election. With 21 seats, the FPÖ was the third largest party in the Austrian parliament, on par with the Greens. Since the formation of the government of the later grand coalition initially proved to be lengthy, Strache advocated a concentration government during the formation of the government and vehemently ruled out a coalition with the BZÖ and the Greens.

Strache at a demonstration on Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz against the expansion of an Islamic cultural center in Vienna- Brigittenau in May 2009

While Strache was still committed to ethnic anti-clericalism in the 1990s , in 2009 he appeared as a speaker with a cross in hand to demonstrate the presence of Christianity. In the same year he took up the commitment to the “German Volksgemeinschaft”, which had been temporarily deleted in 1997, again in the “Handbook of Liberal Politics”, which made it an official part of the party program again.

During this time Strache attacked not only foreigners but also increasingly Islam : A “culture war” had long since begun, since Islam was not just a religion, but also a totalitarian legal and social system. The Islamism is the " fascism of the 21st century" and the symbol of this ideology is the mosque with its minaret. That is why Strache, like Jörg Haider and later also the Swiss People's Party, called for a building ban on minarets and German as the compulsory language for sermons in mosques. There is " racism against Christians and European culture" among Muslims . Islam did not participate in the Enlightenment and was "politics, law and religion". Even before the new Islam law came into force , he described the proposed ban on foreign funding for Islamic communities as a “ placebo ”.

A photograph published in 2007 by the Austrian daily newspaper from a meeting of the Vienna Corporationsring in 1989 shows Strache sitting in traditional costume with three raised, stretched and splayed fingers on his right hand, looking at a person standing in front of him. The newspaper interpreted this as "Kühnengruss", a variant of the Hitler salute invented by the German neo-Nazi Michael Kühnen , which is not explicitly forbidden in Austria. The photo was supposed to prove that Strache felt that he belonged to this scene and showed himself to be. Strache denied this and explained the gesture as an old “greeting from the South Tyrolean freedom fighters”, but withdrew this explanation and declared that he could no longer remember what he wanted to signal with this gesture, and compared it to ordering “three beers ". Two days later he distanced himself from right-wing extremism in a specially arranged press conference and compared media reports on right-wing extremist contacts and symbolic acts of his person with the style of the National Socialist propaganda newspaper Der Stürmer . Strache denied the daily newspaper's statements and sued them. In January 2008, the historian Gerhard Botz , appointed as an appraiser in the court case, stated that it was “the most obvious” that it was about the bold salute.

In the course of the negotiations on the Treaty of Lisbon from 2007, Strache spoke out against Austria signing it and called for a referendum. He feared that Austria would lose its neutrality through its ratification and took a position against a “ centralizedEuropean Union . “Austrians do not want a constitutional dictatorship in Brussels, they want to decide their own future.” In the years that followed, he often criticized the EU and called for a referendum on Austria's whereabouts several times. Nonetheless, the FPÖ under Strache and his party colleague Andreas Mölzer founded the EU parliamentary group “ Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty ” in 2007 together with other European right-wing to right-wing extremist and EU-skeptical parties , which only existed until the end of the year. Strache and the FPÖ tried again and again at the European level with other right-wing parties to form an EU parliamentary group, which failed for years. Finally, in 2015, the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group was founded .

At the 28th regular party congress of the FPÖ in Innsbruck 2007, Strache was re-elected chairman with 94.85 percent of the delegate's votes.

After Kosovo was founded in 2008, Strache spoke out against an independent Kosovo from Serbia and described himself as a “friend of the Serbs”. In the same year there was a break between the governing parties ÖVP and SPÖ and early National Council elections were imminent. Strache stood as the top candidate of the FPÖ and received 17.54 percent of the votes and thus 34 of 183 seats in the Austrian parliament . With a vote increase of 6.61 percent, the FPÖ became the third strongest force after ÖVP and SPÖ.

At the regional party conference of the FPÖ Vienna on June 20, 2010, Strache was confirmed with 99.12 percent as the Vienna regional party chairman of the FPÖ and nominated as a top candidate and thus also mayor candidate for the upcoming regional and municipal council elections in Vienna 2010 . The main themes of the FPÖ's election campaign were security, jobs, integration and foreigners with the goal of achieving at least 20 percent and breaking the absolute majority of the SPÖ's mandate in Vienna. Strache reached 25.77 percent of the votes with the FPÖ in this election, which corresponds to a vote increase of 10.94 percent. With 27 mandates, the FPÖ became the second strongest political force in Vienna.

In the state and municipal council elections in Vienna in 2015 , Strache and the FPÖ Vienna achieved 30.79 percent of the votes cast and thus their best result to date in the federal capital. The stated goal of overtaking the SPÖ was not achieved, but one third of the mandates in the Vienna Landtag were achieved and since then has increased opposition rights ( blocking minority , Federal Audit Office can be called on).

On March 4, 2017, Strache was re-elected as federal party chairman with his highest result to date of 98.7 percent of the delegate's votes and unanimously nominated by the federal party executive as the top candidate for the 2017 National Council election in Austria .

On July 13, 2017, Strache was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold with the star for services to the Republic of Austria by the President of the National Council, Doris Bures . The then Federal President Heinz Fischer had previously refused to sign the award document in 2012.

Heinz-Christian Strache at the FPÖ New Year's Meeting 2019

From January 2018 he was President of Österreichische Sporthilfe , in June 2018 he was elected at the Sporthilfe General Assembly for the period of office until 2022. In October 2018, on the tenth anniversary of Jörg Haider's death , Strache and the former FPÖ Vice Chancellor Herbert Haupt were presented with the “Jörg Haider Medal for Services to Political Renewal” by his widow. With this "gesture of reconciliation" the dispute between the FPÖ and BZÖ should be finally settled.

On May 18, 2019, Strache resigned as federal party leader of the FPÖ due to the Ibiza affair . Successor as federal party leader was Norbert Hofer designated as successor as Vienna State party chairman was Dominik rip nominated. He was succeeded as President of Sporthilfe in September 2019 by Eduard Müller .

Expense affair, suspension of party membership and exclusion (2019)

In connection with a suspicion of bribery and corruptibility against Peter Sidlo , having reached the CFO of Casinos Austria through political assurances regarding the Vienna Gambling Act , on August 12, 2019, according to a confirmation by the public prosecutor's office for corruption, a house search of Strache, among others, was carried out took place.

On September 23, 2019, details of the prosecution's ongoing investigations into a suspected expense account from Heinz-Christian Strache were published. According to the Viennese FPÖ regional party leader Dominik Nepp , the expense account should have a monthly credit limit of 10,000 euros. The Viennese MP Dagmar Belakowitsch , however, contradicted Nepps statement that the establishment of the expense account for Strache had been approved by the Vienna state party. According to Nepp, however, the decision was made in the Presidium, of which Belakovich is not a member, and not on the Executive Board. On September 25th, Heinz-Christian Strache denied the allegations and claimed that the aforementioned expense account was available to his entire office for professional purposes. According to reports from Austrian media at the end of September 2019, the Vienna FPÖ demanded the return of the monthly rent subsidy of 2500 euros, a total of 11,500 euros, which had been paid since May 2019, which, according to Nepp, was paid for Strache's house in Klosterneuburg because he had also received delegations there. In addition, at the end of 2019, photos of a large amount of bundled money in a bag or backpack in Strache's car, which Strache's former driver and bodyguard took in 2013, appeared. After the photos were evaluated by a photo forensic expert on behalf of Spiegel and Süddeutscher Zeitung, there was “no evidence of possible manipulation”. The pictures are attached to Strache's investigation files from the public prosecutor's office. The accusation was made that the money, 10 million euros, came from Ukrainian oligarchs and that Thomas Schellenbacher was placed on the National Council electoral list as their liaison in 2013 and that other FPÖ candidates who were not in front of him had actually received this mandate . In 2016, a businessman who, according to his own statements, had not received his promised agency fee, sued Schellenbacher for two million euros in civil proceedings. Investigations by the Corruption Prosecutor's Office were discontinued in 2018, but after the photos appeared, the businessman wants to reopen the proceedings by means of a retrial. Strache and the people involved deny the allegations. On December 31, 2019, the Minister of Justice confirmed that the Corruption Prosecutor's Office was continuing the investigation.

On October 1, 2019, Strache announced his complete withdrawal from politics and the suspension of his party membership (which is not possible according to the party statutes). As reasons, he gave the protection of his family and the prevention of a crucial test and division of the party. On the same day, Strache was suspended at a meeting of the party executive committee. During that time , Judith Innerhofer interpreted Strache's assertion that he did not want a split in the party as a warning to the address of his party, because no one knew as much as Strache about what was going on inside the party. The fact that he was not excluded, but merely suspended, is a "wild card" that is reserved, because if the allegations are confirmed, exclusion from the party is still possible later. Britta Hilpert ( ZDF ) drew the conclusion that Strache had finally fallen “not because of the Ibiza video, because of the appearance of corruption and the disregard for the independent press”, but “about his high-handed behavior with the assets of his party”. The members and voters of “the self-proclaimed little people party FPÖ” could not have been conveyed to the members and voters of a “lively lifestyle”. Peter Münch (Süddeutsche Zeitung) commented that the Austrian voter had "punished" the FPÖ in the parliamentary elections and that the party had "passed the punishment on to its former chairman" Strache. Münch pointed out that the affairs "indicate not just a personal failure, but a failure of the system", because the party had granted Strache "another four and a half months of cover" after the Ibiza scandal and only after Straches became public alleged lifestyle at party expense after being expelled from the party.

At the end of October 2019, the FPÖ deactivated the Straches Facebook account, which last had 786,000 followers, and withdrew all rights for this page from him. After the Ibiza affair, Strache was deprived of sole administrator rights; all contributions made by him were checked by the party before publication. A deadline set by Strache's lawyer to surrender the data let the FPÖ pass. Strache's attorney had announced legal action in this case. The party that had previously wanted to merge Strache's account with their site, but which had been prohibited by Facebook, argued that the site was run both financially and personally by the party and was therefore their property. She is also noted as the media owner in the imprint.

On the occasion of the expulsion of his wife Philippa from the FPÖ, Strache wrote on his private Facebook page in October 2019 that the “gentlemen at the new party leadership would rather discredit a young woman and mother than admit their own weaknesses”. You have a "problem with women, and especially strong women". He himself made mistakes and could “not shed his skin from what happened”. According to Strache, there are bans on speaking and an attack on freedom of expression among FPÖ members. Strache also criticized "an internal destabilization of our party"; Hofer and Kickl should "finally pull themselves together". In a response from the party leadership, Strache was “asked” to “take note of the suspension”. He “lost all rights of a member”. Strache had previously written on Facebook: "Don't worry, I won't just come back on the Facebook fan page."

At the end of November 2019, Strache wrote on Facebook: “I am offering the FPÖ the lifting of my suspension (this was an anti-liberal prejudice) and a return as party leader. The party base should decide. Let's do a democratic grassroots vote. "About 12 hours after this entry, Strache changed" party leader "to" Vienna party leader "and wanted to have a vote on who should lead the FPÖ" into the future "and into the 2020 Vienna election. Shortly thereafter, he called for his wife's expulsion from the party to be withdrawn. The Viennese FPÖ state party secretary Michael Stumpf then recalled Strache's declarations to withdraw completely from politics, which he had “never doubted”, and FPÖ general secretary Christian Hafenecker recommended Strache “self-reflection” and no longer ruled out Strache's final party exclusion. Christoph Schwarz felt in the courier through Strache's demeanor - also through his appearance and speech at a rally against the smoking ban - "reminded of old FPÖ election campaigns". Strache give the "tribune of the people"; he railed against the system to which he had belonged for a long time and would not allow himself to be "stopped (anymore)" by the party. Oliver Das Gupta ( Süddeutsche Zeitung ) stated that Strache's “complete withdrawal from politics” had not even lasted two months; his return proposal was received internally as "bold, destructive and aloof".

On December 13, 2019, Strache was expelled from the FPÖ. Strache himself then spoke of a “prejudice machine”. According to the FAZ, there has been "no talk for a long time" of a complete withdrawal from politics, it "never really took place". Strache did not want to take over the chairmanship of the DAÖ ( The Alliance for Austria ), which was founded by three politicians who left the FPÖ in December 2019, that must be another, more sustainable project, Strache said.

Commitment to DAÖ and Team HC Strache

Heinz-Christian Strache with the DAÖ founders at their “New Year's Meeting” in January 2020

At the New Year reception of DAÖ in January 2020 the Vienna Sofiensäle stepped Strache as a guest speaker. He spoke out against a “Muslim majority society” and again criticized Norbert Hofer, Herbert Kickl and Manfred Haimbuchner for their political course. Functionaries had also "lived very well at one expense" and the FPÖ had lost "head, heart and soul" with its exclusion. He left his further involvement within the DAÖ open, according to Strache "a few more specific things have to be discussed for a citizens' movement and a list of HC Strache". Strache told the Austrian daily that he had been “the success factor of the FPÖ in Vienna for the past 14 years”. His biggest mistake was to resign as FPÖ boss. On the political Ash Wednesday of the DAÖ at the end of February 2020, Strache described the alliance as the first nucleus for the new citizens' movement, with which he would run in the state elections in Vienna . At the end of April 2020, Strache said that the “new red-white-red citizens' movement” would appear as “guardians of the constitution” and promised: “We'll take care that those currently powerful in this country don't go too far.” May Strache officially declared that he would run as the top candidate with a new party, Team HC Strache - Allianz für Österreich , in the state elections in Vienna in October 2020. With this official declaration, the DAÖ was also renamed Team HC Strache. Strache announced that they see themselves "as a counterweight and counter-movement to a globalization of the world that is completely out of hand and a society that is increasingly being uprooted".

Political positions

Economic and social policy

Under Strache, the FPÖ retained the economically liberal orientation of the Haider era; the official party orientation was a slightly regulated free market economy, privatization and a functional welfare state.

Before the 2017 National Council election, Strache called for the tax rate to be reduced to below 40 percent. He wanted to abolish the cold progression and "people who have never paid into the social system" to cut the minimum income. Strache demanded a minimum pension of 1,200 euros.

South Tyrol question

In 2007 Strache called for more self-determination for the Italian province of South Tyrol and wished for “a Tyrol from Kufstein to Salurn ”. Furthermore, he demanded the pardon of the members of the Liberation Committee South Tyrol . In 2016, Strache confirmed his wish and in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica spoke out in favor of a referendum on the reunification of Tyrol. Strache and the turquoise-blue federal government have been campaigning for the introduction of Austrian-Italian dual citizenship for South Tyroleans since 2017 and have set this down in their government program. These plans were rejected by the then Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini .

Direct democracy

Strache is an advocate of direct democracy and cites Switzerland as a role model for a stronger establishment of this political system in Austria. The population should have the right to force referendums by being anchored in the legislature as a right of initiative . If a referendum exceeds a certain number of supporters, a vote should be taken. In 2011 he called for a binding referendum from 150,000 signatures of a referendum. After the referendum "Don't smoke" carried out in 2018 , which was signed by just under 900,000 Austrians, Strache referred to the coalition pact with the ÖVP, which provided for a hurdle of 900,000 signatures, which had not been reached. In addition, the turquoise-blue federal government does not plan to hold binding referendums until 2022 when this hurdle is reached.

Climate change

According to Strache, human complicity in climate change has not necessarily been proven. There are scientific evaluations that “the percentage of human influence is so small that it has to be said that it will not depend on people.” Strache refers to natural developments. Even Greenland was so Strache, "once a green country [was] with wine." The astrophysicist Ray Weymann and the geologist Svend Funder , on the other hand, emphasize that grain cultivation and - on the coast - livestock farming were possible, but that it was never warm enough there to grow vines . The Old Norse name Vinland for the coasts of Greenland and North America does not have to be translated as wine country, but can also mean meadow or pasture land.

The standard counted Strache among the deniers of man-made climate change . A spokesman for the Austrian environmental protection organization Global 2000 also criticized that Strache shows with his trivialization that he does not take the findings of climate science seriously.

education

Strache calls for a headscarf ban in public educational institutions and acknowledges the cross in class. According to Strache, there should be a compulsory German pre-school from the age of four or five if children have deficits in the German language. Strache rejects a comprehensive school and describes it as leveling down.

Family policy

Strache rejects the adoption right for homosexuals . He wants parents to be preferred to childless applicants with the same qualifications in the labor market.

Publications

Strache published texts on Journalistenwatch , a platform of the new right .

Controversy

European Security Services GmbH

Strache had been a partner in a company for external financing of dental prostheses since 2002, which was converted into a European Security Services GmbH (ESS) for property and personal protection after he left in January 2004 . A news article from 2005, according to which the converted company had trained “ mercenaries ” for Iraq , led to a parliamentary question that quoted the report: “Strache has nothing to do with the mercenary business, of course.” Defense Minister Günther Platter replied that there was at the company "so far no evidence of a criminal act to be prosecuted by the authorities according to § 320 StGB", so that one could not speak of mercenary training.

The Kleine Zeitung , which in 2009 suspected Strache had knowledge of alleged illegal practices by his former company, was convicted of defamation in 2010 . ÖVP general secretary Fritz Kaltenegger received a fine in 2010 for his public false claim that Strache was recruiting young people to train as a mercenary. However, Strache's subsequent civil suit was dismissed.

Attitude to Wehrmacht deserters

In Germany, in September 2009, the law on the repeal of National Socialist judgments in the criminal justice system was extensively expanded, so that deserters at the time were now generally rehabilitated as victims of Nazi justice, no longer after individual cases. Strache refused to discuss the Austrian legislation because deserters of the Wehrmacht "were often murderers" and "some of their own comrades and soldiers may have shot and killed". In doing so, he adopted a view of Siegfried Kampl , who had been legally prevented from chairing the Federal Council by a parliamentary majority and then excluded from his party, the BZÖ.

The political scientist Walter Manoschek examined 1,300 cases of Austrian deserters during the Nazi era on behalf of the government, with the result that there were only two homicides. Therefore, he described Strache's statement that at least 15 percent of the deserters were murderers as "completely absurd".

Dispute with the ORF (2010-2016)

At an FPÖ event on March 12, 2010, the ORF reporter Eduard Moschitz appeared with two young skinheads and a camera team. In front of the camera, Strache accused the reporter of having incited the two of them to shout “Sieg Heil” and paid them to publicly discredit him . He filed charges against Moschitz and the skinheads for re-activating the Nazis. After the ORF posted the relevant section on the Internet a few days later, Strache accused the ORF of manipulating the original recording.

On July 28, the person responsible for the ORF program, Christian Schüller, reported Strache for false statements and defamation . The investigating public prosecutor applied for his immunity to be waived ; The National Council approved this on September 22nd. A court opinion on September 19, after a “rough” investigation, revealed that neither the sequence of images nor the tape of the ORF broadcast had been manipulated. The fact that heckling had previously been cut out from the tape seized by the police was “not very likely”. The Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology also examined the audio and video recording of the broadcast that was put on the Internet by ORF, with the result that no such call could be identified.

Strache saw his manipulation allegation as proven. He was first questioned in December 2010 on account of possible false statements; According to a profile report, the proceedings against him were only initiated on the instructions of the chief public prosecutor. A second judicial opinion in May 2011 confirmed that no right-wing extremist heckling was detectable on the recording and that no manipulation could be proven, but it cannot be ruled out either. In May 2013, the proceedings against Moschitz and Strache were discontinued because the reported facts (manipulation of the ORF tapes or an exclamation like "Heil Hitler" or "Sieg Heil" as well as a slander by Strache) could not be proven.

The lawsuit brought by Moschitz against the FPÖ for defamation and violation of the presumption of innocence was dismissed by the Vienna Criminal Court in May 2014. Judge Stefan Apostol saw it as proven that he had harassed both of them as stated by Strache. The judgment was overturned in March 2015 by the Vienna Higher Regional Court and referred back to the first court for a new hearing and decision. In April 2016, the FPÖ was sentenced to pay compensation and obliged to publish the judgment. This decision was confirmed by the Vienna Higher Regional Court in June 2016.

Statements at the Vienna Corporations Ball 2012

On 27 January 2012, should Strache according to a report by Standard towards guests of the Vienna Korporations Balls pointed to alleged arson attacks by counter-demonstrators and those with the phrases "We are the new Jews" and "It was like the Night of Broken Glass " commented. All Austrian parties except the FPÖ criticized Strache's reported statements. The Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, co-organizer of the counter-demonstrations, announced a criminal complaint against him. Federal President Heinz Fischer then refused to sign for the award of the Great Golden Decoration of Honor with the Star for Services to the Republic of Austria to Strache, which politicians are usually awarded after ten years in the National Council.

In the ORF broadcast Zeit im Bild 2 on January 31, 2012, Strache stated that his statements had been completely twisted and taken out of context. He only wanted to explain how “totalitarian mass psychoses ” emerged in the face of the “deathly fear” of visitors through insults and sometimes violent protests . The sentence about the Jews was a quote from Jörg Haider.

Controversy over caricature

In August 2012, Strache published a well-known cartoon on Facebook with a fat man who, according to the picture title, symbolized “the banks”. In Strache's version, the nose of the figure had been changed to a hook shape, the cufflinks now resembled stars of David . These changed details were criticized in public as anti-Semitic stereotypes. Strache denied that the picture showed stars of David and complained that he was accused of anti-Semitism. At the beginning of 2013, the Vienna Public Prosecutor stopped investigations into this matter against Strache for hate speech . The then Justice Minister Beatrix Karl (ÖVP) stated in a parliamentary question from the SPÖ that the “cartoon was not incited against the entire Jewish population, but - as the text accompanying the cartoon revealed - criticism of the Austrian federal government and the euro rescue package decided by this should be practiced ”and the investigation was therefore discontinued. In June 2018, in the run-up to a visit by Federal Chancellor Kurz (ÖVP) to Israel, the drawing was removed from the Facebook page Straches, now Vice Chancellor of an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition government .

ORF's lawsuit against Facebook posting (2018)

At the end of February 2018, ORF sued Strache over the allegation that the station was distributing false news. The politician shared a post on Facebook on February 13, 2018, accusing ORF of spreading “ fake news , lies and propaganda” on all of its channels. Strache also attacked journalist Armin Wolf directly, but later offered him an apology. The ORF under its general director Alexander Wrabetz took the split posting as defamation and discrediting of its 800 journalists. The broadcaster reserves the right to claim damages. ORF also sued Facebook because the company allegedly refused to delete the post shared by Strache. On March 13, 2018, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement. Strache will therefore apologize for the accusation of lies via an advertisement in the “Kronen Zeitung” and for ten days on his Facebook profile. In addition to the procedural costs, Strache pays 10,000 euros in compensation.

Interview with the "Kronen-Zeitung" (April 2019)

In April 2019, Strache said in an interview with the “ Kronen-Zeitung ” that the FPÖ “is consistently continuing the path for our home country Austria, the fight against population exchange , as people expect from us.” Strache used the The word “population exchange”, which describes a conspiracy theory, according to which the population of Europe should be replaced by immigrants under the direction of secret elites, a battle term that is mainly used by the right-wing extremist Identitarian Movement . At the beginning of the month Strache had distanced himself from the Identitarian Movement at a state party conference in Upper Austria, for which he had been praised by Chancellor Kurz. Strache received approval and praise for his choice of words in the Kronen interview with Martin Sellner from the Austrian Identitarian Movement. Federal Chancellor Kurz emphasized in an ORF interview that this word does not belong to his linguistic usage and that there should be no “interweaving” with the identities, which Strache had made clear. For the journalist Benjamin Konietzny, Strache's choice of words and the timing are no coincidence. In 14 years of federal politics, Strache has used the term five times. Now, three weeks after his "cocky distancing" from the identities, he is holding out his hands to them "again" by using their central battle term. This “gesture of reconciliation” should also be understood as a “campaign maneuver” before the European elections. Konietzny also criticized the fact that Strache had tried to " water down the term right-wing extremism ". Strache had said in the interview that right-wing extremism is "only there" where someone tries "to enforce his political goals by force". According to Konietzny, according to this logic, " Holocaust denial , racism, anti-Semitism, admiration for Hitler [and] all despicable and misanthropic forms of right-wing extremism" have a right to exist "as long as the component of violence is not fulfilled".

Ibiza Affair (2019)

On May 17, 2019, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the German news magazine Der Spiegel published excerpts from a video leaked to them from July 2017, which was secretly recorded in a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza . The six-hour video shows a meeting between Strache and his confidante Johann Gudenus with several unknown people, including a woman who poses as the niece of a Russian oligarch. He offered Strache the purchase of the Austrian Kronen Zeitung and campaign support for the FPÖ in the 2017 National Council election in Austria . In the conversation, Strache offered her in return, among other things, state contracts and the privatization of profitable parts of public services if the FPÖ came to government. In addition, Strache explained a possible illegal party financing by bypassing the reporting obligation to the Court of Auditors and addressed a reorganization of the Austrian media system based on the example of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán . Strache (like Gudenus) returned repeatedly throughout the evening and on his own initiative to issues such as a possible takeover of the Kronen Zeitung by the alleged oligarch and the return of politics. He also described the possibility of using compromising material (made public abroad) from the private life of his political competitors to set in motion a chain reaction of ever new disclosure campaigns with which the other Austrian parties would override one another.

Demonstration "Resign Now!" on May 18, 2019 at Ballhausplatz

According to SZ editor-in-chief Kurt Kister , there were "many unmasking, some disgusting and several almost pitiful sequences" on the video material. Most of them are "of a private nature and should remain so".

Strache and Gudenus had confirmed the meeting and their statements days before to the two investigating German media, but emphasized that they had fallen into a “boozy holiday atmosphere” and that they repeatedly “referred to the relevant legal provisions and the need to comply with the Austrian legal system” in the course of the conversation “Would have pointed out. After it became known, many Austrian political opponents and media representatives demanded Strache's resignation as Vice Chancellor and an immediate termination of the governing coalition with the FPÖ from Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz . The SPÖ brought a statement of the facts to the business and corruption public prosecutor's office in order to have the incidents investigated for behavior relevant to criminal law.

Strache resigned as Vice Chancellor and FPÖ party chairman on May 18, 2019. In his statement on this, he described the recording and publication of the video as a “dirt bucket action”, “targeted political assassination” and “secret service attack”. The published excerpts have been taken out of context. During the conversation, he repeatedly insisted on compliance with the law. At the same time, he emphasized: It was “alcohol-related macho behavior” and “a drunk story”. In the end, he admitted that the meeting was “stupid”, “irresponsible”, “a mistake”. At the same time he announced legal steps, also against those who initiated the meeting, in order to refute the allegations against him "by all means". He apologized to his wife and the Federal Chancellor. Political scientist Peter Filzmaier rated Strache's statement and his accusations on ORF as an attempt to turn the perpetrator-victim role around. In Der Spiegel , Nils Minkmar wrote : “In a complete twist of the situation, he scandalized the fact of the secret recording, without admitting the obvious: that there would have been nothing to broadcast if he had not formulated such concrete plans to transform Austria. [...] He sank in a boat that he built himself. ”On May 21, three days later, Strache wrote on Facebook that he wanted to“ track down the people behind the criminally created video ”, at the same time he will "prove his innocence". On May 24th, Strache spoke on Facebook of his utterances as “mind games”, which are “unacceptable in the political arena”, but the thoughts are free and so are their articulation. He was wondering what “economic or political interests could be behind the destabilization” of Austria and had filed criminal charges against three people. The SZ journalists Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier involved in the publication of the video pointed out that it was Strache himself who had told a newspaper in March 2018 that if a public official received evidence of corruption, he had to act, otherwise he would he is liable to prosecution.

On the day after the video material was published, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the end of the government coalition and new elections : "[...] even if the methods [...] are despicable, the content is just as it is." did not get the impression that there was a will in the FPÖ to change the party, which was "urgently needed"; it harms the country's reputation. Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen described the events as a "disturbing moral picture" and "shameful", spoke of the fact that "the fourth power [...] had fully assumed its responsibility" and announced that it would support the new elections. It now needs to rebuild trust in Austria. The media scientist Bernhard Pörksen also wrote at the time that every journalistic duty of care had been fulfilled and, when weighing up the public interest and the personal rights of the filmed people, the public interest in the fact that a (then future) Vice Chancellor "proves to be potentially corruptible", “ Outweighs under all circumstances.” On the other hand, Strache had “ dreamed of the totalitarian dream of 'orbánisation' of the media landscape and, with his FPÖ troops, committed himself to the fight against independent journalism. He lost it. "

Strache's statement that the meeting was an alcohol-related one-off slip and that he then had no contact with the alleged oligarch is questioned by reports from Spiegel and the SZ: According to this evidence, Gudenus had further contacts with the FPÖ representative Unknown, discussed another meeting with her in August 2017 and agreed with her on a public assurance of the contracts offered by Strache. For example, Gudenus published a press release for the FPÖ that contained information requested by the woman. Straches and Gudenus' suspicions of the administration of knockout drops or other toxic substances as an explanation for their behavior in Ibiza contradicted a report by forensic doctor Michael Tsokos and toxicologist Sven Hartwig : The gestures are "content-related and not exaggerated", wording and grammar are "polished" despite complex issues. Failure symptoms or sleepiness or clouding of consciousness were not detectable.

During a search of Strache's property in the course of the " casino affair ", extensive documents were confiscated that Strache had created after the Ibiza video became known. These files also contained a graphic with which Strache had sketched a conspiracy against him from his point of view and a network behind it, at the head of which he sees the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde (IKG), the constitution protection , the ÖVP, oligarchs and Freemasons .

In the course of resigning from his political functions, Strache was also deleted from the list of candidates for the 2017 National Council election in order to block himself from returning to the National Council after his resignation. A deletion from the list for the 2019 European elections (42nd place) was no longer possible due to deadlines. Two days before the election, it became known that Martin Sellner of the Identitarian Movement had fired a preferential vote campaign for Strache. In the European elections, Strache received more than the 33,000 preferential votes required for a direct mandate and could have entered the European Parliament . The deadline for giving up a mandate that had been won was July 2, 2019. On June 17, 2019, Strache announced that he would not accept the EU mandate.

On June 13, 2019, it became known that the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor's Office (WKStA) was investigating Strache, Gudenus and other people for breach of trust.

In November 2019, a call data back-recording by "Soko Ibiza" showed that Strache, before the publication of the video - after Spiegel and SZ had confronted him with his statements - with the real estate investor and Signa founder René Benko and the arms industrialist wife Kathrin Glock was on the phone.

After Strache filed a complaint against the journalists involved in Spiegel and SZ at the end of May 2019 for alleged violations of Section 201 and Section 201a of the German Criminal Code , the Munich I Public Prosecutor declared in November 2019 after an examination "that the accused had not made themselves liable to prosecution". Similarly, the Hamburg public prosecutor's office had justified the termination of the investigations against the Spiegel journalists in July 2019 .

Accusation of dedication in an anti-Semitic book

At the beginning of June 2020, the Süddeutsche Zeitung published handwritten statements which, according to an expert commissioned by the newspaper, "almost certainly" came from Strache. In this written dedication, presumably from 1992, in the anti-Semitic pamphlet Jewish Confessions by Hans Jonak von Freyenwald , Jews are referred to as "opponents". According to the entry, the book should "give you an insight into the confused and power-hungry world of thought". According to SZ, Strache also wrote two sayings on the inside of the book cover, namely a quote from the German poet and historian Ernst Moritz Arndt and a poem by the Austrian National Socialist Joseph Hieß, who died in 1973 . The book itself was originally published in 1941 by the Nuremberg Stürmer-Verlag and was reprinted by a right-wing extremist facsimile publisher in Bremen . According to the SZ, Strache had signed the book for a companion belonging to the milieu of German-national connections and, according to the entry, dedicated it to the " Yule Festival ". Strache himself complained in a statement in social networks about "campaigning from abroad", but did not deny the matter itself. He sent word through his lawyer that he knew the recipient but could not remember either the book or the dedication. He rejects hostility towards Jews “out of deep conviction”. Representatives of various parties expressed strong criticism and considered Strache's attempt to return to politics to be unacceptable. When asked, Strache's successor in the FPÖ chairmanship, Norbert Hofer, recalled the Austrian “basic consensus that anti-Semitism should have no place”. Also the president of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Vienna and the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Austria Oskar Deutsch suggested to Strache not to make a political comeback and said that Strache “never dealt honestly with his own biography”; there was “no turning point”.

Political classification

Strache's political positions are generally perceived as right-wing nationalist and right-wing populist. He emphasizes patriotism (“Austria first”), positions himself against the EU and warns against “ foreign infiltration ” and “ Islamization ”.

In 2003, Christa Zöchling attributed a “closeness to National Socialist ideas” to Strache in the magazine profil . A lawsuit by Strache against it was finally dismissed in the second instance in 2004. The reasoning for the judgment stated that he was not accused of being a neo-Nazi or of cultivating such ideas, but of having a certain proximity to these ideas.

The political scientist Anton Pelinka considered the classification of “right-wing populist” for Strache in 2008 as “a nasty trivialization”: “In other countries, what Strache and Haider stand for are right-wing extremism.” According to Richard Stöss (2006), Strache is following “a German-national opposition course ".

The journalist Sebastian Fischer (2007) judges Strache on the basis of his slogans, demands and contacts, for example, as an implausible, opportunistic “right-wing radical Grüßaugust ”, while his colleague Sonja Hasewend describes him as a xenophobic, “staunch nationalist ”. The former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz (SPD) and the journalist and former Member of the European Parliament Hans-Peter Martin called Strache a " Nazi ".

According to Anton Maegerle (2009), Strache has been “deeply anchored in the extreme right-wing milieu for decades”. Under his party leadership, the FPÖ drifted “extremely to the right”.

In 2009, Hans Magenschab compared the slogans of the Vienna FPÖ under Strache with those of Georg von Schönerer , one of the founding fathers of the Third Camp in the 19th century.

The political scientist Marcel Lewandowsky attested Strache in a book published in 2011 Populismus . Strache knows "to combine anti-Muslim resentment with an unsatisfied need for internal security, social justice and a tendency to skepticism towards modernization".

The political scientist Florian Hartleb counts him among the “second generation” of right-wing populists ”. The political scientist Paula Diehl calls him a right-wing populist. According to Hartleb, Strache, who was considered Haider's “ foster son ”, was noticed after taking over the party chairmanship with “ xenophobic statements and [...] anti-elitist gestures”. Strache's political positioning shows striking “similarities to the Haider-FPÖ of the 1990s” in terms of style and content. Like his predecessor, he followed an “anti-Islamic course” in the 2006 National Council election . The political scientists Edma Ajanovic and Birgit Sauer also found in 2014 that the FPÖ under Strache was mainly adopting “anti-Muslim rhetoric and euroscepticism”, and Strache himself stood for it.

According to anti-Semitism researcher Juliane Wetzel (2012), Strache regularly attracts attention with the “East Coast 'Code'”, a cipher used in the right-wing extremist scene for the political and media landscape in the United States that is supposedly dominated by “the Jews”.

Right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism researcher Heribert Schiedel takes the view that Strache, like Haider back then, portrays himself as an “advocate for the common people” with whom he shares the feeling that “always and everywhere came up short”. According to Schiedel, this “self-infantilization” leads to fear and paranoid reactions, because the smaller someone makes themselves, the “bigger, more powerful and more hostile” the others would appear to him. Hence the resentment of the discontented would be fueled.

Private

In 1999 he married Daniela Plachutta, the daughter of the Viennese restaurateur Ewald Plachutta . She brought two children from a previous marriage with her and together they had two children, a daughter (* 2001) and a son (* 2003). The couple separated in late 2005 and divorced in 2006. The children live in the same house with their mother. On October 7, 2016, he married the model Philippa Beck in Weißenkirchen in der Wachau . Their son was born on January 1st, 2019. In August 2020, at a separate hearing on the question of Heinz-Christian Strache's admission as a candidate for the state and municipal council elections in Vienna 2020, the couple stated that they were living separately.

In October 2004 a fraternity member criticized a lecture by Strache at the “ Inaugural Comer of the Fortified Corporations in Salzburg”. Since the dispute lasted until the festivities in the booth of the Pennal fraternity Rugia , Strache asked him to do a mensur , which took place the following month. This was criticized in several media and seen as a sign of the closeness of the FPÖ and the beating fraternities .

Awards

Publications

  • No future without values. In: Andreas Mölzer (Ed.): What remains of the third force? W3-Verlags-Gesellschaft, Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-900052-04-2 , p. 41 ff. (= Zur Zeit, Die Edition, Volume 3).

literature

Monographs

Contributions to edited volumes

conversations

Web links

Commons : Heinz-Christian Strache  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  46. Web archive of the homepage of HC Strache ( Memento from November 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
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  77. The Courier : The Friend of the Serbs ( Memento from February 2, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
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