Skip to main content

Frank Stronach has been elected to the Austrian Parliament along with 10 members of his Team Stronach party, but he has no interest in propping up the coalition that has governed Austria since 1945.

"We would not go into coalition with any other parties," Mr. Stronach said in a telephone interview from Austria Monday.

The party led by the 81-year-old, who is a native of Austria, but gained greater fame in Canada as the founder of auto parts giant Magna International Inc., won about 6 per cent of the vote.

But the coalition of the centre-left Social Democratic Party and centre-right Austrian People's Party is teetering after barely getting a majority of votes.

Mr. Stronach's party pushed a program of tax reform, parliamentary reform, balanced budgets and exiting the euro, but did not win as many seats as Mr. Stronach expected and did not perform as well as it did in state elections earlier this year.

He said he does not want to go into coalition with the "professional politicians" who lead the two main parties.

"They don't want to leave the feeding trough. That means the country is managed just by political reasoning and that will never work," he said.

His party's totals were surpassed by the right-wing Freedom Party, which ran third with 21 per cent of the vote and the Green Party, which captured 11 per cent. The Freedom Party also wants to pull out of the eurozone.

But Mr. Stronach said he is convinced his party can grow by continuing to press its message of governmental and tax reform.

"We must stop making more debt. We need a a budget with a small surplus [so] that we start paying back debt."

The campaign included a battle of the buff in which Mr. Stronach and Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache doffed their shirts and appeared bare-chested in public – borrowing a page from Russian president Vladimir Putin's playbook.

It is the first time Mr. Stronach has been elected to public office. He ran for the federal Liberals in the 1988 federal election, but was defeated.

His daughter Belinda was more successful. She was elected as a Conservative after playing a behind-the-scenes role in uniting the Progressive Conservatives and the Reform Party, but then switched to the governing Liberals before leaving politics in 2007.

The results for the two leading parties were their worst since 1945.

People's Party leader Michael Spindelegger expressed doubt about contining the coalition with the Social Democrats.

"It won't work to continue the grand coalition as before with the same agenda and all the standstill and paralysis ... that we are always accused of," Reuters quoted him as telling Austrian radio.

Opposition parties gained from broad disenchantment among Austrians worried about the economy, scandals and the size of government.

"This government does not show the will to address the big problems of the future: education, bureaucracy and pensions," said Stefan Bruckbauer, chief economist of Bank Austria.

With files from Reuters

Interact with The Globe