By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 0 Comments
In conversation with Jonathon Gatehouse
He is Canada’s foremost rags-to-riches story: a poor Austrian immigrant who built a global auto parts empire through his sweat and determination. But even though Frank Stronach recently stepped down from the board of Magna International, the firm he founded in 1957, he is far from retired. There’s a just-released autobiography, The Magna Man. And most intriguingly, Team Stronach— a new, self-funded political party that seeks to shake up the status quo in his homeland.
Q: You’ve been politically active before—running for the Liberals in 1988, and supporting your daughter Belinda’s campaigns. But why did you want to re-enter the fray at age 80?
A: I think we all have a conscience. And if things don’t work too well we always say, ‘I wish somebody would do something.’ And now, if my grandchildren ask me if I ever tried to improve society, I can say yes. But it’s not a game for me. Before, I made a lot of money—$40 million or $50 million a year. And now this is going to cost me maybe 20 million euros [$26 million]. And you know that when you enter the political arena there’ll be a lot of poisoned arrows flying toward you.
By Rachel Mendleson - Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 11:00 AM - 1 Comment
Haider is dead but his right-wing party is still growing
After firebrand Austrian politician Jörg Haider died in a car crash last October, the future of his extreme right-wing party appeared uncertain. But in regional elections this month, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) showed that it is still very much alive. With more votes than ever before, Haider’s successor Gerhard Dörfler easily retained top spot in Carinthia, where Haider served as governor for 12 years. At Dörfler’s re-election celebration, party head Uwe Scheuch told a crowd of jubilant supporters: “We have become even stronger in the post-Jörg Haider era.”
The BZÖ has yet to expand its popularity much beyond Haider’s old stomping grounds, but the victory, coupled with advances by the far-right Freedom Party in Salzburg, is stoking fears that extreme right-wing platforms are gaining traction in tough times. As in Austria, unemployment and discontent are thrusting Germany’s far right into the mainstream. Though widely derided as neo-Nazis, the National Democratic Party (NDP) has enjoyed electoral success in the depressed east, where the anti-immigration, anti-European Union platform has proven appealing. In February, former NDP official Uwe Luthardt gave credence to concerns about rising neo-Nazism when he told Der Spiegel magazine: “The simple aim is the restoration of the Reich.”