NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum

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NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum
Party leader Beate Meinl-Reisinger
Beate Meinl-Reisinger 01.jpg
vice-chairman Andrea Klambauer , Christoph Wiederkehr
Secretary General Nikola Donig
Club hostess Beate Meinl-Reisinger
Federal Managing Director Robert Luschnik
founding February 4, 1993 ( LIF )
October 27, 2012 (NEOS)
January 25, 2014 (merger)
Place of foundation Vienna
Headquarters Neustiftgasse 73-75 / 7
1070 Vienna
National Council mandates
Federal Council mandates
Seats in state parliaments
Government grants 10.3 million euros (2018)
Number of members 2,700 according to own information (2017)
Party structure 10 regional groups (9 federal states + Austrians abroad)
Minimum age 16
Alignment Liberalism
Political Center
International connections Liberal International (Observer Member Party)
Mandates in the European Parliament
European party Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
EP club RE
colour Pink , pink

NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum is a liberal party in Austria . It was founded in October 2012 under the party name NEOS - Das Neue Österreich and entered the National Council election in Austria in 2013 in an electoral alliance with the Liberal Forum , with which it merged in January 2014. In the National Council election in 2013, the party achieved 5% and entered the National Council , which it achieved again in the National Council elections in 2017 with 5.3% and in 2019 with 8.1% of the votes.

As of November 2020, the party is also represented in the European Parliament and in six of the nine state parliaments. In Salzburg it is a coalition party in the Salzburg provincial government , in Vienna part of the Vienna City Senate and the Viennese provincial government .


The NEOS party emerged from movements such as “Phönix” and “Austria speaks”, which in 2012 campaigned for more democracy. A group of people interested in politics had met regularly in Vienna since 2007, including the later co-founders of NEOS, Matthias Strolz from Vorarlberg and the manager Veit Dengler . The founding convention of NEOS - The New Austria finally took place on October 27, 2012 in Vienna's Urania . Matthias Strolz was elected chairman by the members present with 96.2% of the votes. Shortly after it was founded, in January 2013, NEOS said it had over 1000 members.

National Council election 2013

Founding chairman Matthias Strolz at the NEOS event There is another way! The party! in May 2013.

At the beginning of March 2013 it became known that NEOS had founded an electoral alliance with the Liberal Forum (LIF) and the Young Liberals (JuLis), which appeared under the NEOS umbrella brand . As an expression of this partnership, members of LIF and JuLis were also represented on the NEOS board. In mid-March 2013, former members of the green economy also joined NEOS. These included former federal and state spokesmen. The Online Party of Austria was announced as a further partner for the election platform in April 2013 .

In April 2013 NEOS carried out the first public primaries for a party to draw up the federal list. In this system, a third of the citizens decided in a public vote on the Internet, the board of directors and all members on the ranking of candidates. The candidacy was not dependent on NEOS membership, and the candidates faced the three preselection modes after a brief hearing. The final composition of the NEOS federal list for the 2013 National Council election was announced on May 1, 2013. On July 19, 2013, the party announced that it had achieved the necessary number of declarations of support in all federal states in order to be able to run nationwide in the national elections. From September 5th, the construction industrialist Hans Peter Haselsteiner , who had previously only appeared as a financier and supporter for the party, actively campaigned for votes for NEOS, even though he himself did not appear on the party's electoral lists.

In the election, the party was named "NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum" with the abbreviation "NEOS" on the ballot. In the election she received 5% of the vote and a total of nine seats in the National Council. When it was sworn in on October 29, 2013, the party moved into the XXV as the parliamentary club named NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum as the smallest party . Austrian National Council .

Merger with the Liberal Forum

After the successful first National Council election, the two previously independent parties of the electoral alliance decided to merge with each other. This merger took place on January 25, 2014 as part of a party convention, with the parties NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum forming the new party NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum . The previous NEOS chairman Matthias Strolz was elected as chairman of the new party, his deputies were the previous head of the Liberal Forum, Angelika Mlinar , and the NEOS chairwoman in Vienna, Beate Meinl-Reisinger . As part of the merger, the National Council Club was also renamed the Club of NEOS on January 30, 2014 .

On March 22nd, the third partner from the former electoral alliance was also involved in the National Council election. The Young Liberals (JuLis) joined the party at a federal congress in Salzburg under the new name JUNOS - Young Liberal NEOS, and thus became its official youth association. The national chairman of Junos was the previous JuLis chairman and NEOS member of the National Council, Nikolaus Scherak , who was previously a member of the NEOS board.

Running in elections in 2014

In the municipal elections in Salzburg on March 9, 2014 , NEOS was able to achieve at least one mandate in the respective municipal council when it ran for the first time in four municipalities in the federal state of Salzburg (City of Salzburg , Hallein , Obertrum and Abtenau ) . In the city of Salzburg, 12.4% of voters voted for NEOS, which meant five seats in the city council and one city council position - as the fourth strongest force with a narrow lead over the FPÖ.

At the beginning of 2014, as in the previous National Council election, the party held open, three-stage primary elections in order to nominate its candidates for the 2014 European elections . From this pre-election process, on February 15, 2014, the deputy party chairman and, at that time, Member of the National Council, Angelika Mlinar, emerged as the top candidate. In the election on May 25, 2014 , NEOS received 8.1% of the votes, one of the 18 Austrian mandates to be awarded in the EU Parliament , where the delegated MEP subsequently belonged to the parliamentary group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe .

As early as December 2013, NEOS announced that it would also run for the state elections in Vorarlberg in 2014 . Vorarlberg was considered - as Matthias Strolz's home state and because of its broad bourgeois-liberal electorate - next to Vienna as the most promising state for the young party. In the run-up to the election, however, the three-stage code system had to be changed due to a known abuse by former party members, so that the open online code was no longer available and the Vorarlberg general assembly decided two thirds of the list places instead. In the state elections on September 21, 2014, NEOS fell short of expectations with a share of the vote of 6.89% and two state parliament mandates. In particular, it did not succeed in overcoming the hurdle for founding one's own state parliament club (possible from three mandates).

Vienna election 2015 and further ballots

Countries in which NEOS is represented in the state parliament
  • as a member of the state government
  • as an opposition party
  • The first elections in 2015 were the municipal council elections in Lower Austria on January 25th , with NEOS running in 43 municipalities. The party mainly competed in the communities in the area around Vienna, the so-called “Viennese bacon belt”, with a predominantly urban population. In Guntramsdorf, NEOS joined a coalition with the SPÖ and the Greens and has since provided Elisabeth Manz, the first NEOS Vice Mayor in Austria. In all municipalities together, NEOS achieved 36 municipal mandates, the best result they achieved in the municipality of Pyhra in the St. Pölten district with 18.08% of the vote.

    In the 2015 Chamber of Commerce elections from February 23 to 26, UNOS (Entrepreneurial Austria), the NEOS Chamber of Commerce organization , ran for the first time . Throughout Austria, the UN achieved 2.0% of the votes and 76 mandates in the specialist group committees in the Chamber of Commerce elections.

    In the municipal council and mayoral elections in Carinthia in 2015 on March 1st, NEOS competed in seven of the 132 municipalities and managed to move into five municipalities. In the municipal council and mayoral elections in Vorarlberg 2015 on March 15, NEOS ran in four of the 96 municipalities and made it into the municipal councils in each of them. In the municipal elections in Styria in 2015 on March 22nd, NEOS competed in 15 municipalities and achieved at least one seat in the municipal council in 6 of them.

    NEOS suffered a severe setback in the state elections in Styria and Burgenland , which took place at the same time on May 31 . Despite the nationwide candidacy, NEOS was unable to gain entry into the state parliament in both ballots. In Styria the party received 2.64% of the vote, in Burgenland 2.33%. NEOS was also unable to achieve the basic mandate hoped for in the Styrian state parliament constituency 1 , which includes the city of Graz and the Graz-Umgebung district . The state elections in Upper Austria on September 27th for NEOS also ended in a similar way . Despite the nationwide candidacy, the party barely made it into the state parliament with 3.47% of the vote due to missing the four percent hurdle. In the municipal council and mayoral elections held at the same time in Upper Austria , NEOS was able to achieve at least one mandate in 14 of the 18 municipalities in which the party ran for elections.

    By far the most important election of 2015, however, was the Vienna state and municipal council election on October 11th . For this, Beate Meinl-Reisinger was confirmed as the top candidate by NEOS in February 2015. In the run-up to the election, the party positioned itself in the context of its election campaign in particular against “the inflated political apparatus” and “waste”. In the election itself, NEOS made it into the Viennese municipal council and state parliament with 6.16% of the votes and thus entered a state parliament for the second time (after Vorarlberg 2014). With five seats, the party was the smallest parliamentary group in the municipal council and state parliament of the 20th legislative period .

    Ballots in 2016 and 2017

    In the first ballot in 2016, the municipal council election in St. Pölten on April 17, 2016 , NEOS only achieved 1.6% and thus no mandate in the St. Pölten municipal council. In the federal presidential election held shortly afterwards on April 24, 2016, the party supported both the independent candidate Irmgard Griss and the former Green federal spokesman Alexander Van der Bellen , who received around 100,000 more votes than Griss and thus entered the runoff election. Van der Bellen was ultimately also elected Federal President after this runoff election was repealed and the election was repeated in December 2016.

    At the end of 2016, there were internal party changes at NEOS: The previous federal manager Feri Thierry resigned from his position at the end of October, his successor was the previous club director in the National Council, Stefan Egger . At the same time, on December 1, the office of general secretary was created, which Nikola Donig, until then head of communications for the party, took over. In the municipal council elections in Graz 2017 , NEOS received 3.94% of the votes and thus a mandate in the municipal council of the second largest city in Austria.

    As of March 30, 2017, the NEOS National Council Club consisted of only 8 MPs after the previous NEOS MP Christoph Vavrik left the club and party after a statement that was perceived as homophobic and heavily criticized and surprisingly switched to the ÖVP club. The party had previously communicated several times that Vavrik would resign from his mandate at the end of March, and a successor had already been named for him. On March 30, the party and the public were surprised by the transfer of the club and the associated loss of mandate for NEOS.

    On July 7, 2017, it was announced that the party would run the early National Council election in October 2017 as an electoral alliance under the name NEOS - Das Neue Österreich together with Irmgard Griss , Citizens for Freedom and Responsibility (short name NEOS). The former presidential candidate Irmgard Griss ran behind party leader Matthias Strolz in second place on the federal list. The top candidate of NEOS for the 2015 Viennese state and local council elections , Beate Meinl-Reisinger , the social spokesman for the NEOS parliamentary club, Gerald Loacker and the economic spokesman , Sepp Schellhorn, followed on the other places on the federal list . As a result, the electoral alliance was able to achieve 5.3% of the valid votes cast in the National Council election and thus increase its share of votes by 0.3 percent compared to the previous National Council election in 2013. As a result, ten mandataries from the electoral alliance NEOS - The New Austria belonged to the National Council of the 26th legislative period together with Irmgard Griss, Citizens for Freedom and Responsibility , of whom all except Irmgard Griss were NEOS party members.

    State elections in 2018 and entry into a state government for the first time

    In the state elections in Lower Austria on January 28, 2018, the party with top candidate Indra Collini received 5.15% of the votes and entered the state parliament for the first time with three mandates. In the state elections in Tyrol on February 25, 2018, NEOS also made it into the state parliament with 5.2% of the votes and two mandates. In the state elections in Carinthia on March 4, 2018, the newly founded electoral alliance NEOS - My Southern Carinthia - Moja Južna Koroška clearly missed entry into the state parliament with 2.1% of the votes.

    The party achieved its best election result to date in the state elections in Salzburg on April 22, 2018, where it received 7.3% of the vote under the leadership of top candidate Sepp Schellhorn and subsequently moved into the Salzburg state parliament with three seats. After Vorarlberg, Vienna, Lower Austria and Tyrol, Salzburg became the fifth federal state in which NEOS is represented in the state parliament. Subsequently, NEOS entered into coalition negotiations with the party with the strongest vote, the ÖVP, and the Greens. After these coalition negotiations were successfully concluded, the party moved into a state government for the first time, which resulted in the so-called “ Dirndl coalition ” made up of the ÖVP, Greens and NEOS in Salzburg . In the Provincial Government of Haslauer II under Governor Wilfried Haslauer , NEOS Provincial Councilor Andrea Klambauer is responsible for housing, childcare, families, science, adult education, women, equal opportunities, generations and integration.

    End of the Matthias Strolz era

    On May 7, 2018, the founding chairman of NEOS, Matthias Strolz , surprisingly announced that he would resign from the position of party chairman at the end of June 2018, and that he would also step down as club chairman in the autumn and step down from the National Council. At a general meeting on June 23, 2018, Beate Meinl-Reisinger , the previous state chairwoman of NEOS in Vienna, was elected Matthias Strolz's successor as party leader with 94.8 percent of the votes. The two members of the National Council, Nikolaus Scherak and Sepp Schellhorn, were appointed as their new deputies . Meinl-Reisinger subsequently also took over the National Council mandate and the club chairmanship in the National Council of Strolz, who withdrew from politics. In March 2019 it was announced that Robert Luschnik would succeed Stefan Egger as Federal Managing Director in July 2019 .

    In the first nationwide election in 2019, the European elections on May 26, NEOS was able to win a mandate in the European Parliament for the second time since 2014 . With its top candidate Claudia Gamon , the party received 8.44% of the votes cast and was able to increase the proportion of votes by 0.30% compared to the first time running in the European elections in 2014.

    In the run-up to the National Council election in Austria 2019 , NEOS again presented a strategic partnership with a prominent career changer - as in the 2017 election with Irmgard Griss : The former editor of the daily Kurier , Helmut Brandstätter , was welcomed by the NEOS general meeting by means of a " Wildcard ”was chosen to be number 2 on the federal list. The day before he was presented as a NEOS candidate, Brandstätter had presented a book entitled “Kurz & Kickl - their game with power and fear” , in which he processed his political views on the previous ÖVP / FPÖ coalition . In the election, NEOS was able to achieve 8.1% of the votes cast, a significant increase compared to the last National Council election in 2017. The party is now represented in the National Council of the 27th legislative period with 15 mandataries.

    In the state elections in Vorarlberg 2019 , which took place two weeks after the National Council election , NEOS received 8.5% of the votes cast and was thus able to increase the number of mandates in the Vorarlberg state parliament by one to a total of three. This meant that the party was able to form a state parliament club in the Vorarlberg state parliament for the first time. In the state elections in Styria in 2019 , NEOS also made it into the state parliament of Styria for the first time by achieving a basic mandate in state electoral district 1 . Overall, the party and its top candidate Nikolaus Swatek received 5.37% of the votes cast and subsequently moved into the Styrian state parliament with two mandataries.

    2020 elections and entry into the Viennese provincial government

    The year 2020 began for NEOS with the disappointment of having clearly missed entry into the Burgenland Landtag in the state elections on January 26th, 2020 with only 1.71% of the votes cast (after taking office for the first time in 2015) . This result even represented a loss of 0.62 percentage points compared to the 2015 election.

    In the state and municipal council elections held in Vienna on October 11, 2020 under the influence of the global COVID-19 pandemic , NEOS and top candidate Christoph Wiederkehr achieved a result of 7.47% of the votes - and thus an increase of 1.31 Percentage points - achieve. The party therefore moved into the Vienna municipal council and state parliament with eight mandataries . After exploratory talks with the ÖVP, the Greens and NEOS, the party with the strongest vote, the SPÖ Vienna , announced on October 27 that it would enter into coalition talks with NEOS. These coalition talks finally led to the formation of the first Red-Pink “Social Liberal” coalition in Austria ( state government and city senate Ludwig II ) on November 16, 2020 , led by Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) and designated Vice Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS).

    In May 2021 it was announced that the National Councilor Douglas Hoyos would succeed Nick Donig as Secretary General at the end of June 2021. On June 19, 2021, Beate Meinl-Reisinger was re-elected chairwoman with 93 percent of the votes at the general meeting in the Design Center in Linz, Vienna's Vice Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr and Salzburg Provincial Councilor Andrea Klambauer , who succeeded Nikolaus Scherak and Sepp Schellhorn in this function , were deputies . MEP Claudia Gamon and the deputy club chairman Gerald Loacker moved into the board.

    Political orientation

    In a political science analysis from 2016, NEOS was described by the scientists David Johann, Marcelo Jenny and Sylvia Kritzinger from the University of Vienna as the “classic party of the middle”. The authors determined this positioning in the political center primarily because the party was situated between the two long-standing parties, the ÖVP and the Greens, both in terms of its program and the self-positioning of its electorate . For example, programmatic overlaps in economic and tax policy with positions of the ÖVP as well as in social and educational policy with the Greens were found. In studies on a left-right scale, NEOS voters located themselves very similarly to ÖVP voters, predominantly in the middle of the political spectrum, albeit with a slight tendency to the right, whereas with NEOS voters a slight tendency to be observed to the left. By locating NEOS between the ÖVP and the Greens across various political areas, the party could be viewed as a whole "actually be seen as a representative of a modern, liberal bourgeoisie."


    In preparation for the 2013 National Council election, the party worked out a 9½-point plan that served as a programmatic guide for party members. The party calls the entire party program , into which the results of the individual topic groups flowed, “plans for a new Austria”.

    Thematic focus

    In terms of content, NEOS sets the thematic priorities in the areas of education, Europe and direct democracy. According to a liberal understanding, the party advocates strong autonomy for schools and the upgrading of early childhood education facilities. According to the party, there should be a competition for school models and an intermediate level of maturity with uniform standards. In terms of European policy, NEOS advocates a European federal state . In the medium term, an EU-wide convention, whose members are elected by the population, is to draw up a new constitution. In addition, party founder Strolz has spoken out in favor of reducing party funding by 75 percent.

    In the election campaign leading up to the National Council elections in 2013, NEOS positioned itself programmatically in the area of intergenerational equity and there in particular with regard to the current Austrian pension system . The party demanded that pensions of over 5,000 euros per month should be reduced by 15 percent and that pensions of more than 2,500 euros should no longer be adjusted annually to inflation in order to make the pension system “enkelfit” again.

    Social and labor policy

    In the social area, NEOS is in favor of designing the services in a targeted manner. Part of these considerations is the self-conceived citizen money , which is based on Milton Friedman's negative tax. In addition, it strictly rejects the taxation of assets and inheritances. However, it advocates a capital gains tax as well as the adjustment of the property tax. Another demand is the lowering of the basic tax rate and the relief of higher incomes by raising the threshold for the top tax rate. At a general meeting on the national holiday in 2014, the members of NEOS decided that the party will in future be responsible for the full approval of soft drugs, such as cannabis , in the field of drug policy .

    In terms of labor market policy, NEOS tends to oppose minimum wages , and the party believes that collective bargaining agreements between the social partners should have the character of guidelines. As a classic liberal party, NEOS calls for the privatization of public shares in companies in the energy, telecommunications and rail transport sectors.

    organization structure

    The NEOS party - The New Austria and Liberal Forum is a party founded under Austrian law and registered with the Ministry of the Interior . Like an association, the party also maintains a general meeting, which is the highest organ of the party and can make all relevant decisions. In contrast to other associations or parties, NEOS holds general assemblies several times a year, chaired by a three-person presidium, in order to enable the party members to be as closely involved as possible in the decision-making processes. The executive committee of the party, which is responsible for the operational management between the general assemblies, is appointed by the general assembly.


    Content-related positions are worked out at NEOS in so-called "topic groups", which non-party members can also belong to and within which discussions about the positioning of the party as a whole take place. Citizens forums and expert forums can also be set up to involve citizens and experts in decision-making. The party also offers the opportunity to participate in most of these forums online. Before the general assembly, the applications for online assessment are available to offer a further opportunity to provide feedback.

    The organizational structures of NEOS in the federal states are not independent state parties, but rather belong to the entire Austria-wide party. Nevertheless, there are so-called state teams for each federal state with a state spokesman who coordinates the activities in the state.


    Despite its advocacy of lowering party support, the party, like all other parties represented in the National Council, is supported by state party support. After the 2013 National Council election, it amounts to a total of around 4.9 million euros per year. Due to the fact that NEOS could not receive any state party funding before the National Council election, the party was financed exclusively through donations until then. First, a form of micro-funding, i.e. primarily small donations from individuals, was used, whereby these were published transparently on the NEOS website. If a donor did not want to be named publicly, he had to expressly state this with the donation. NEOS did not accept anonymous donations from the start - they were passed on to a charitable organization. NEOS publishes all income and expenses on a specially set up transparency website. NEOS supports the Open Data Portal Austria , on which the party's financial transactions can be accessed.

    In addition to the up to 2200 small donors, larger patrons came later, such as the industrialist Hans Peter Haselsteiner , who had previously been a member of the National Council for the Liberal Forum in the 1990s and had always supported the LIF financially. According to the party, a total of 840,000 euros were earned by July 25, 2013.


    Web links

    Commons : NEOS - The New Austria and Liberal Forum  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

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