The FPÖ as Homeland Party

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The FPÖ is known as a homeland party in Austria and that is why so many people vote for it. However the neoliberal agenda of the party is less well known and often contradicts national interest and the proclaimed love of the home country. It is not long ago that many people in Europe and Austria have been protesting against the investment and trade agreements TTIP and CETA. In deed the FPÖ has abstained to raise its vote about TTIP and CETA on EU-level. However at the less well known investment agreements JEFTA with Japan and EUSIPA with Singapore which are very similar to TTIP and which contain the same dangerous ISDS clauses the FPÖ has fully agreed and voted with “yes”. The FPÖ is only willing to budge from its neoliberal agenda when there are heavy protests supported by a wide part of the society. ISDS treaties are so dangerous because the state can be sued for future lost profits by arbitration tribunals meeting secretly in preclusion of the public. Germany needs to pay 6.1 Billion Euros because of its nuclear phaseout to Vatenfall basing on the energy charta treaty. Italy will have to pay between 200 and 300 Million USD to Rockhopper because it refused to allow drilling for oil in the adriatic sea which is popular among so many people for bathing. Like this big companies can act against almost any labour, consumer and environmental standards like f.i. the introduction of a minimum wage. Only companies from abroad may sue via ISDS; companies from inside the country can not use the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) mechanism.

Trade agreements like TTIP lead by synergy effects of big corporations to a loss in jobs because only a few market participants can successfully compete internationally in a certain area which leads to the reduction in concurrent facilities. The much propagated win in terms of jobs would never have taken place for TTIP mainly because the US would have profited unilaterally the expected economic growth being rather low even in optimistic scenarios.

A second important issue propagated by the FPÖ have always been reductions in taxes. That would be a good thing if it were mainly the middle class and the lower income class who would profit from it. The FPÖ stage-manages itself as the advocate of all hard-working people (non-FPÖ voters being diminished as lazy and inertial). However this policy has its dark sides when it comes to tax reductions for big corporations. Most transnational companies do already pay less than 1% of tax because they can shift their profits to low-tax countries not being liable to account to any country. As much as you may welcome the introduction of a digital tax for large internet corporations as imposed recently by Austria as much we will have to point out that the reduction of corporation tax has cost much more than can be earned by the digital tax. There are mainly big companies which have profited from the reduction of the corporation tax and not smaller and mid-cap corporations. It must be allowed to put tax reductions for big corporations in question because almost all of these big corporations have already outsourced their production since long. Why should we not impose taxes upon the dirstribution and marketing?

However tax reductions for big corporations are not the only problem. The federal government of Austria is also blocking tax transparency on an EU level: It would be necessary to uncover who stands behind letterbox companies, foundations and trusts. It would also be necessary to make public how much profit multinational corporations earn where and where and how much tax they pay. That would be a prerequisite for a fairer taxation of multinational corporations and super-rich individuals who park their assets in tax shelters abroad. The federal government of Austria would have had the possibility to table the issue of country-by-country reporting when Austria held the EU Presidency. A basic reform of the finance system after the finance crises in 2008 has not taken place. Corporate and investment banks are still not separated jeopardizing not just people´s savings but the stability of the whole system. There are only a few parties within Europe who are proactively engaing for a sufficient reform of the finance system like the 5 Star Movement in Italy or the Green Party in Austria and Europe. The chief of the EZB (European Central Bank) has sponsored large amounts of money to dubious corporations like those for gambling by purchasing their corporate bonds via the EZB.

In our opinion such individual problems are not the core issue about the party but the neoliberal orientation of the party as whole is. Almost all right wing parties across Europe have a neoliberal orientation. The neoliberal dogma does not combine well with a homeland party. When we look at the environmental policy then it would be highly possible to create new jobs by support of local alternative energy. That would keep assets in the country and improve the foreign trade balance because it would reduce the imports of fossil fuels. In our opinion all state support of fossil fuels should be abolished. However the WTO forbids to prescribe a certain amount of locally added value by its trade rules which would be necessary to keep the invested money in the country so that the earned profits can be taxed by the country which has given the support. Since many years we are watching how our local and clean production in Europe has been outsourced to countries like China. Factories have been rebuilt without environmental legislation like filters for pollutants. Unfortunately current trade rules have also blocked us from imposing import tariffs on climate wrackingly produced goods. It is a scandal as well that CO2 emissions for international shipping and air transport are regulated nowhere. That is like if the huge distance between Europe and Asia would not exist. With a policy like this people in Austria will have to wait for long until the coal fired power plant in Dürnrohr which still emits unfiltered mercury can be wracked.

Big companies which do directly profit from fossil fuel extraction or from the economic structures created by a fossil based economy in general spend a lot of money not only in denying the worst effects of climate change but also to discredit climate protection measures by doom-mongering the effects on you and me. Think tanks situated in the USA like Heartland, Cato and Heritage spend about 900 Million USD every year on this issue. That includes scare tactics like 'we will no more be able to afford our cars'. Before the energy revolution the coal industry has said that when renewable energies in Germany will reach a share of 10% in total energy production then all electric lights in the country would go off staying dark. Cars based on hydrogen are no more expensive than cars based on fossil fuels but they are much more efficient than cars using combustion engines and can be powered by 100% renewable energies. Enemies of the energy revolution use to table how much the energy revolution will cost to the public. However investments in infrastructure and alternative energies should not be seen as detremential as they can revive the economy. Unfortunately the neoliberla dogma of deregulation forbids any intervention of the state and thus also the support of strategic economic sectors.

Left wing parties are unvotable for many party members of the FPÖ mainly because of their immigration politics. As far as it concerns the elections of the European Parliament the parties there will have little say about immigration since this is still an issue decided by nation states in Europe. Sarah Wiener runs for the Green Party in Austria. She is a well known cook from television and a successful enterpreneur of a company. The recent mass immigration into Europe in 2015 has not been cause by left wing politicians but by a conservative politician, namely chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany who has invited people to come to Europe.

you could also be interested in: an interview with the ÖVP (Austrian branch of the EVP) about their trade and tax policy.