Liberal Forum

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Liberal Forum
LIF logo
Party leader Angelika Mlinar
founding 4th February 1993
Place of foundation Vienna
fusion January 25, 2014
(incorporated in: NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum )
Number of members approx. 700 (2013)
Alignment Liberalism ,
Classical Liberalism
International connections Liberal International
European party Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

The Liberal Forum (LIF) was a liberal party in Austria . The LIF was a member of the ALDE at European level and, until 2011, of the Liberal International at international level . In January 2014 the LIF merged with NEOS to form NEOS - Das Neue Österreich und Liberales Forum .



The Liberal Forum was founded on February 4, 1993, when five members of the National Council ( Heide Schmidt , Klara Motter , Friedhelm Frischenschlager , Hans Helmut Moser , Thomas Barmüller ) split off from the FPÖ and formed their own parliamentary group under the chairmanship of Heide Schmidt. The rupture and the subsequent split in the party were triggered by differences of opinion with the party chairman at the time, Jörg Haider, as well as the FPÖ's “ Austria firstreferendum, which critics regarded as xenophobic . The founders of the LIF declared that they wanted to form a classical liberal party again , which has not existed in Austria since Haider's rise in the FPÖ.

2006 to 2009

With the support of the SPÖ in the form of an electoral alliance in the National Council election in 2006 , the LIF was represented with a mandate in the National Council for the first time since 1999 . In the National Council election in 2008 , the party failed because of the four percent hurdle. In the 2009 European elections , the LIF involuntarily did not run: The liberal MEP Karin Resetarits supported the Young Liberals instead of the LIF .

Party reform 2008/09

After the clear defeat in the National Council election in 2008 and the withdrawal of Heide Schmidt, several party members decided to reform the program and statutes - the basic program dates from 1993 and many points were no longer relevant. For this purpose, a new party leadership was elected at a party congress on October 25, 2008 and a reform team was appointed; Party leader was Werner Becher .

Almost eight months later, on June 20, 2009, the new program was decided at a new party congress and a new, this time fixed, party presidium was elected. Since that date, the lawyer and entrepreneur Angelika Mlinar has been the new federal spokeswoman.

From 2010

After internal consolidation and extensive party reform, the main innovation of which was the introduction of national organizations, the Liberal Forum took up position on October 10, 2010 in the Vienna state and municipal council elections. The "old guard", consisting of Heide Schmidt, Volker Kier, Thomas Barmüller and Friedhelm Frischenschlager, acted as a so-called strategy team to advise the Vienna LIF. See section Vienna Election 2010 .

After the new statute of the Liberal Forum also enabled the creation of sub-organizations, a new youth organization was set up in 2010 with the Liberal Youth Forum (LJF) .


On January 25, 2014, the LIF merged with the NEOS and subsequently dissolved as an independent party. Since then, the new party has been called NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum .

Elections and representation in parliaments

State and local council elections 1993–2001

In the Lower Austrian state elections in 1993 , the LIF succeeded in entering the state parliament with 5.12% and three members; However, in one of its strongholds, Vorarlberg, it failed in 1994 with only 3.49% of the five percent threshold . In the same year, 5.76% of those eligible to vote in the Salzburg state election voted for the Liberal Forum; however, the LIF did not obtain a basic mandate and was therefore not represented in another stronghold.

In the state elections in Styria in 1995 , the LIF achieved 3.84%; With a basic mandate in Graz, two members of parliament could move into the state parliament. In the municipal council elections in Vienna in 1996 , the LIF overtook the Greens with 7.96%; however, due to the basic mandate clause, they had one less mandate than the Greens, namely six.

In 1998 the Liberals stood again for the state election in Lower Austria and failed to get back into the state parliament with 2.13%; the LIF also failed in 1999 in state elections in Carinthia , Salzburg , Tyrol and Vorarlberg . In Salzburg, whose state electoral law had meanwhile been changed, only 3.66% of the votes were achieved, in Vorarlberg 3.36%, in Tyrol it was 3.25%. In 2000 the LIF fell out of the Styrian Landtag with 1.11% .

In Vienna in 2001 there was still hope for the top candidate Alexandra Bolena. However, due to the five percent threshold with a result of only 3.43%, the Vienna LIF lost its six members in the state parliament / municipal council. The Liberal Forum was thus eliminated from the last state parliament in which it was represented up until then.

Vienna election 2010

At the state assembly on May 29, 2010 the federal spokeswoman Angelika Mlinar was elected as the top candidate for the Vienna municipal council and state parliament elections , as well as the district representative elections , in October 2010. In second place on the electoral list came the Viennese state spokesman Hannes Heissl.

The party leadership was not very enthusiastic about the fact that the Young Liberals (JuLis), which had split off from the LIF and originally launched as a student parliamentary group for ÖH elections, announced in May 2010 that they would run their own candidacy in the Vienna election 2010.

Since the Liberal Forum did not have any mandates in the bodies available for election, declarations of support had to be submitted for the start of the election. For the municipal council election, the required number of 100 signatures of people entitled to vote per constituency was achieved in 15 of the 18 Vienna constituencies. The constituencies Hietzing, Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus and Döbling were not made; 13 declarations of support were missing, which were signed but not submitted in time. For the district council election, 50 signatures were obtained for each of the 23 districts, so that standing was possible in all districts. With a share of the vote of 0.69%, the entry into the municipal council was clearly missed and no mandates could be obtained in the districts.

National Council elections

National Council elections
Results of the LIF in national elections
year Share of votes Mandates
1994 6.0% (+6.0) 11 (+11)
1995 5.5% (−0.5) 10 (−1)
1999 3.7% (−1.8) 0 (−10)
2002 1.0% (−2.7) 0 (-)
2006 nk 1 (+1)
2008 2.1% (+2.1) 0 (−1)

Elections in 1994, 1995, 1999, 2002

In the elections to the Austrian National Council, the LIF received eleven seats in 1994 and ten seats in 1995. In the 1999 election, the Liberal Forum failed because of the 4 percent hurdle and has not been represented in the Austrian parliament since then.

In the 2002 election , the party tried again with the (then) ex-ORF presenter Reinhard Jesionek as the top candidate and an election campaign tailored to young target groups. The experiment under federal spokesman Alexander Zach failed miserably with an election result of only 0.98%.

2006 election

In the National Council elections on October 1, 2006, the LIF no longer ran with its own electoral list. Heide Schmidt stated in an interview with the daily newspaper Der Standard that her candidacy failed due to the financial framework.

At the beginning of September 2006, a few weeks before the election on October 1st, the Liberal Forum entered into an electoral alliance with the SPÖ . LIF federal spokesman Alexander Zach received a fixed mandate on the SPÖ's federal list; In return, prominent liberals such as Schmidt, Resetarits and Hans Peter Haselsteiner made an election recommendation for the SPÖ.

This form of cooperation, which is unusual in Austria, was fierce within the LIF and partly also controversial in the SPÖ. Josef Kalina , then head of SPÖ communications, explained that the electoral alliance - comparable to " L'Ulivo " of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi - was an alliance of convenience.

Organizationally, Alexander Zach was assigned to the SPÖ parliamentary club in the National Council .

2008 election

Presentation of the LIF candidates for the 2008 National Council election

After Zach, in interviews since 2006, put up for discussion as party chairman in the (regular) National Council elections in 2010, the Liberal Forum with Heide Schmidt as the top candidate and the building contractor Hans Peter Haselsteiner as economic spokesman and chairman of the support committee in the National Council elections in 2008 . On August 19, the Liberal Forum announced that the necessary declarations of support were available and that nothing stood in the way of a nationwide start.

During the election campaign, old allegations were repeated that Zach had lobbied for the Eurofighter manufacturer EADS in the run-up to Austria's decision to buy new combat aircraft. He denied this at first; later, however, he had to admit that his company, eurocontact, had been working for EADS in Austria on behalf of the German agency Salaction. Zach asserted again and again that he had already ended his work at eurocontact before joining the National Council, and emphasized that as a member of parliament he had voted, among other things, for the establishment of the parliamentary committee of inquiry into Eurofighter procurement. He believed that he had proven his independence.

Nevertheless, he resigned on September 23, 2008 under party and media pressure as federal spokesman and as a candidate for the election and resigned from his mandate as a member of the National Council. Heide Schmidt took over the party chairmanship on an interim basis, and the SPÖ replaced his mandate in accordance with the rules, since Zach was sitting in a “red” seat in parliament.

During the election campaign, the Liberal Forum was around four percent in surveys, and shortly after Heide Schmidt's top candidate was announced, it was even eight to ten percent. These good survey results were supported by a great deal of media interest. Schmidt repeatedly stated that the goal was to form a coalition government with the SPÖ and the Greens after the election in order to prevent the FPÖ and BZÖ from participating in government.

Despite the strong polls, the LIF ultimately remained with 2.1 percent of the vote below the four percent of the votes required for entry into the National Council . Schmidt and Haselsteiner subsequently announced that they would withdraw from politics.

Election 2013

In the run-up to the 2013 National Council election , the party announced that it would run for the electoral alliance NEOS (The New Austria and Liberal Forum). Federal spokeswoman Angelika Mlinar took second place on the NEOS federal party list.

European Parliament

Friedhelm Frischenschlager was a member of the LIF to the European Parliament ( MEP ) from 1996 to 1999 . Karin Resetarits , who became a member of the European Parliament for List Martin , joined the Liberal Group in the European Parliament on June 7, 2005 , and subsequently also the LIF. In 2012 Angelika Werthmann also became an independent member of this parliamentary group.

Federal spokesman

Angelika Mlinar Werner Becher Heide Schmidt Alexander Zach Friedhelm Frischenschlager Christian Köck Heide Schmidt

Apron organizations

Liberal Education Forum

With the entry into parliament as a separate party, the Liberal Forum was also entitled to finance a political academy. The legal form of an association was chosen for the “Liberal Education Forum” (LIB) and Christian Allesch was appointed as the first managing director , who was on leave as an employee of the University of Salzburg for 1995 and 1996 for the development work of the LIB.

In the foreword to the first publication “Liberalism and Judaism” Christian Allesch described the concept of the LIB: “We want to make a contribution to political education in Austria with documentation on our seminars and discussion events. And that means, especially in a country like Austria, to bring the repressed, neglected and controversial issues into the public eye. ... "

The opportunity arose for this at the first LIB event on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of National Socialism in Austria in cooperation with the Jewish Institute for Adult Education with the symposium “Judaism and Liberalism” in Vienna's Urania. This cooperation offered the LIF the opportunity to differentiate itself even more clearly after the split from the FPÖ. The lectures in the Urania by Julius Schöps - at that time director of the Vienna Jewish Museum -, Alfred Gerstl - employee of the LIB - and Anton Pelinka appeared in the first publication of the LIB, edited and expanded by the authors and supplemented by a contribution by the German "Friedrich Naumann Foundation ”. The title of the publication was "Liberalism and Judaism". This publication was presented on March 13, 1996 in the Vienna Jewish Museum by Friedhelm Frischenschlager , Julius Schöps and Doron Rabinovici .

In spring 1996, after the symposium “Punishment, Criminal Law and Politics” with lectures by professors for criminal law in Vienna and Graz, a Viennese lecturer in legal sociology, a Linz public prosecutor and a psychologist from the Stein penal institution, another LIB publication appeared.

In May 1996, the publication “Churches and the State” followed after a well-attended conference. The conference dealt with the topics of concordat , secularity in France, the relationship between church and state and religious versus ethical instruction - also from an evangelical perspective - which are still discussed today . The prominent speakers included Herbert Köck , Richard Potz , Maximilian Liebmann , Dietrich Pirson from Munich, Philippe Gustin from the French Embassy, Franz Nikolasch , Gustav Reingrabner , Ingo Mörth , Heiner Boberski and Rudolf Schermann. The final discussion with Johannes Dantine , Volker Kier , Rainald Tippow , Paul Ladurner from the platform “Kirchenvolksbegehren” and Anton Berger was documented in excerpts, led by Adolf Holl and also featured prominently .

After a hearing, Christian Allesch's successor as head of the LIB was the former Catholic pastor Elmar Kuhn.

See also


  • Friedhelm Frischenschlager: Political Liberalism in Austria - No Chance as a Party? The Liberal Forum 1996-2000. Austrian Yearbook for Politics 1999, pp. 543–585
  • Alfred Gerstl: The origin and development of the Liberal Forum (LiF) 1993/94. Dissertation, University of Vienna, Vienna 1998.
  • Gerhard Kratky: The experiment of founding a party. The Liberal Forum in Review. Studienverlag, Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-7065-4665-2 .
  • Barbara Liegl: The Liberal Forum on the way to becoming an established party? Diploma thesis, University of Vienna, Vienna 1995.

Web links

Commons : Liberal Forum  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Austroliberalism 2013: An Overview. In: The press .
  2. "Unfriendly act" in the declaration of support. In: Der Standard , April 28, 2009.
  3. LIF representative Ronald Pohoryles in his blog: Why the LIF is not running for the EP elections. ( Memento of May 2, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), April 27, 2009.
  4. ^ LIF reform process. ( Memento of June 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Press release October 26, 2008, accessed on June 22, 2009.
  5. ^ Liberal guidelines for a fair and efficient market economy. ( Memento of July 17, 2012 in the web archive ) Press release June 21, 2009, accessed on June 22, 2009.
  6. a b Martin Stuhlpfarrer: Liberal Forum takes part in the Vienna election in autumn. In: Die Presse (print edition), May 22, 2010, accessed on May 24, 2010.
  7. Liberal Forum competes in Vienna election. In:, May 22, 2010, accessed on May 24, 2010.
  8. a b Current information on the Vienna election on October 10, 2010. In:, Rathauskorrespondenz from August 14, 2010, accessed on September 13, 2010.
  9. Six parties stand for election in Vienna. In:, September 3, 2010, accessed on September 13, 2010.
  10. “We fight. We will make it. The wind is rough! " Angelika Mlinar wants to revive the LIF. Interview on September 12, 2010 in, accessed on September 13, 2010.
  11. Final result of the city electoral authority
  12. [ '' Fixed mandate for Liberal boss Zach - SPÖ helps the LIF into parliament. ''] (Link not available)
  13. LIF founders are outraged. In: Salzburger Nachrichten , September 4, 2006.
  14. [ '' Trouble over SP mandate for liberals. ''] (Link not available)
  15. [ '' Interview with Alexander Zach: "We are young and have time". ''] (Link not available)
  16. (link not available)
  17. (link not retrievable)
  18. ^ Gerhard Kratky: The experiment of founding a party. The Liberal Forum in Review . Studienverlag Innsbruck, Innsbruck 2009, ISBN 978-3-7065-4665-2 , p. 205 pages .
  19. ^ Liberales Bildungsforum (ed.): Liberalismus und Judentum . Liberales Bildungsforum, Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-901640-01-0 , p. 136 pages .
  20. ^ Liberales Bildungsforum (ed.): Liberalismus und Judentum . Liberales Bildungsforum, Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-901640-01-0 , p. 136 pages .
  21. ^ Invitation to the "Liberal Education Forum" for March 13, 1996
  22. ^ Liberales Bildungsforum (Ed.): Strafe, Criminal Law and Politics . Liberales Bildungsforum, Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-901640-03-7 , p. 95 pages .
  23. Liberales Bildungsforum (Ed.): Churches and State - A Difficult Relationship? Liberales Bildungsforum, Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-901640-04-5 , p. 197 pages .
  24. ^ Gerhard Kratky: The experiment of founding a party. The Liberal Forum in Review . Studienverlag, Innsbruck 2009, ISBN 978-3-7065-4665-2 , p. 205 pages .