The oldest Hofer deputy in years, Justice Spokesman Harald Stefan, announced that he would immediately contact the other members of the Federal Party Presidium of the FPÖ so that the responsible bodies meet immediately to discuss the successor. Hofer’s resignation came as a surprise to the entire party, Stefan said in a broadcast.
After returning from three-week rehab on Tuesday, Hofer said he had stabilized the party after Ibiza. “My own journey at the top of the FPÖ ends today,” Hofer said in a broadcast. However, he told the daily newspaper “Österreich” that he wanted to remain the third president of the National Council.
Hofer also confirms a connection between the dispute with Kickl about the top candidacy in the next National Council election and his resignation: “Yes, of course. I don’t get told every day that I’m out of place.” According to Hofer, an FPÖ party congress will be necessary in the next few weeks. He wishes his successor every success. The outgoing FPÖ chairman left it open whether he would like to run again in the next federal presidential election.
In the FPÖ state parties, people were surprised by the resignation of the federal party leader. However, several state chairmen have already pleaded for Kickl as his successor. Even the Burgenland state party, from which Hofer comes, stood behind Kickl. State party chairman Alexander Petschnig saw the reason why the FPÖ has recovered in the polls in the “angular opposition policy associated with the name Kickl”. However, several large regional groups such as Upper Austria, Vienna and Styria also kept a low profile.
The new Carinthian chairman Erwin Angerer said that one had to assess the situation and then make a decision: “But if Kickl wants to take over the party, I consider him a possible chairman.” The Tyrolean Markus Abwerzger also wants Kickl to be at least an interim chairman.
Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said on the sidelines of a press conference that although he had repeatedly had “substantive differences and different points of view” with Hofer, “but always worked well on a human level.” The ÖVP chairman wished Hofer “personally all the best”.
NEOS General Secretary Nick Donig said that the FPÖ now “is in danger of a dangerous riot course by Herbert Kickl”. In Donig’s view, Hofer remains “a hapless temporary solution that has taken over a pile of broken glass”.
Petschnig thanks – and is ready for “edgy politics”
In a first reaction, the Burgenland FPÖ regional chairman Alexander Petschnig thanked the outgoing federal chairman: “He took over the party after Ibiza in a phase that was anything but easy. And he also managed to usher in a growth trend in surveys. ”In the BVZ interview, Petschnig also attributes this trend to the“ edgy opposition policy ”. And as is well known, it bears the signature of FPÖ club boss Herbert Kickl.
Hofer also “always said that as the third President of the National Council, he also had a non-partisan function. And as a party chairman that is not always an easy balancing act “, Petschnig interprets a change at the top as a” green light for a possible realignment and a more angular line “. The state party will not shut itself off, although Burgenland can still take its own course.