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©FPÖ

Hilmar Kabas (1942 – )

Honorary FPÖ Chairman since 2005

Interim FPÖ Federal Party Chairman 2005

Second President, Vienna Provincial Parliament from 1996 to 1998

Ombudsman from 2006 to 2007

President of the Political Academy of the Freedom Party of Austria from 2007 to 2017

 

Hilmar Kabas has been Honorary FPÖ Chairman since 2005. He has long been considered a grandee of the Freedom Party and was active for over 50 years in provincial Vienna politics, as well as in Austrian national politics, where he served as FPÖ federal party chairman and as a member of the National Council. After leaving active political life, he for many years served as President of the Political Academy of the Freedom Party of Austria. In 2005, after the BZÖ had split off from the FPÖ, Hilmar Kabas also took on the role of interim FPÖ federal party chairman and succeeded in consolidating the FPÖ in the weeks immediately following this historic watershed.

Short biography

Hilmar Kabas was born in Vienna on 6 January 1942. After graduating from high school (Realgymnasium), he started in 1960 to study law at the University of Vienna and, having completed his military service, graduated in 1968. This was followed by the court internship that is mandatory for law graduates wishing to pursue certain legal professions and in 1969, Kabas started working within the tax authority.

Kabas joined the Freedom Party of Austria in 1961, whilst he was still a student. His FPÖ career started that same year, when he became chairman of the Vienna branch of the Ring of Freedom Party Youth (Ringes Freiheitlicher Jugend, or RFJ). Kabas retained this position until 1968. During this period, he also served as a member of the party executive of the FPÖ Vienna (1964 until 1969). In June 1970, Kabas was recruited by the then FPÖ federal party chairman Friedrich Peter, to a staff position in the FPÖ’s National Council group, of which Peter had just been elected chairman. In 1971, Kabas acquired the status of a civil servant in the National Council’s Parliamentary Service and was assigned to the post of parliamentary secretary in the FPÖ’s parliamentary office. Hilmar Kabas mainly worked for the then FPÖ National Council members Otto Scrinzi and Gustav Zeillinger. In addition, Kabas was one of the 13 co-founders of the “Atterseekreis” (Attersee Circle), a working group of young intellectuals focused on socio and economic policy. It was formed on 23 January 1971 by Norbert Steger, who was later to become FPÖ federal party chairman, and chaired by Friedhelm Frischenschlager.

From 1969 until 1972, Kabas served as FPÖ district councillor in the 9th Vienna district (Alsergrund) and took over the chairmanship of the FPÖ group in Vienna’s first district (Inner City) in 1975. In 1977, he became a member of the Vienna FPÖ’s party executive and the provincial party’s finance officer. Membership of the FPÖ’s full federal party executive followed in 1978 and in 1979, Kabas was appointed deputy chairman of the FPÖ Vienna. In addition, he was in 1978 elected on to the district council of Vienna’s 1st district and assumed the role of chairman of the FPÖ group there.

Between 1983 and 1986, Hilmar Kabas held the position of FPÖ federal press officer and was simultaneously a Freedom Party member of the National Council, where he among other things chaired the Justice Committee. Moreover, he was from 1985 until 2004 a head of department in the federal ministry responsible for trade, commerce and industry. Kabas was elected to the Vienna Provincial Parliament and Municipal Council in November 1987 and in 1991 took over the position of Vienna City Councillor from Rainer Pawkowicz, who went on to become chairman of the FPÖ Vienna. From 1996 until 1998, Hilmar Kabas served as the Second President of the Vienna Provincial Parliament.

In 1992, Hilmar Kabas led the federal presidential election campaign of the Freedom Party’s candidate, Heide Schmidt, and in 1993 he was one of the chief organisers of the FPÖ-initiated popular petition “Austria First”. From 1993 to 1996, he also served on the Board (then “Kuratorium”) of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), having previously been a member of the ORF’s Listeners and Viewers Body.

After the death of Rainer Pawkowicz in March 1998, the FPÖ group in the Vienna Provincial Parliament and Municipal Council elected Kabas as its chairman. In June, Kabas also advanced to the position of chairman of the FPÖ Vienna. At the start of 2000, the FPÖ and ÖVP had agreed to form a federal government, and Kabas was under consideration for the position of Minister of Defence, but the then Federal President, Thomas Klestil, refused to appoint him as a Federal Minister. The reason given by Klestil was Hilmar Kabas' campaigning in Vienna during the run up to the October 1999 National Council elections, campaigning which various sources had characterised as xenophobic. The post of Defence Minister went instead to the Freedom Party's Herbert Scheibner.

In March 2004 Hilmar Kabas was replaced as chairman of the FPÖ Vienna by Heinz-Christian Strache. Hilmar Kabas continued to exercise the role of chairman of the FPÖ group in the Vienna Provincial and Municipal Parliament until November 2005. In the spring of 2005, however, a momentous event caused Hilmar Kabas’ temporary return to national politics. In April 2005, following repeated internal conflict within the Freedom Party, the majority of the FPÖ’s national leadership turned its back on the party and founded the Alliance for the Future of Austria (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, or BZÖ). A key role in this development was played by the Carinthian Governor, Jörg Hader, and Ursula Haubner, who was until then the FPÖ’s federal party chairwoman. As the longest-serving member of the FPÖ federal party executive, Hilmar Kabas assumed the position of interim leader of the FPÖ from 5 April 2005 until 23 April 2005 and expelled Jörg Haider and others from the FPÖ. At the 27th regular FPÖ federal party conference in Salzburg on 23 April 2005, Heinz-Christian Strache was finally elected as the new FPÖ federal party chairman. At this party conference, Hilmar Kabas was simultaneously elected honorary chairman of the FPÖ.

Hilmar Kabas subsequently served as Ombudsman from 29 November 2006 to 30 June 2007. In addition, Hilmar Kabas took on the role of President of the FPÖ Educational Institute, which was newly founded on 14 December 2006. This institution currently operates as the Political Academy of the Freedom Party of Austria. Institute for Politics, Culture and Freedom of Speech (Freiheitliches Bildungsinstitut)

Main political positions

1961 – 1968

Provincial Chairman, Ring of Freedom Party Youth (Ring Freiheitlicher Jugend, or RFJ), Vienna

1983 – 1986

Member of the National Council

Chairman of the National Council Justice Committee

1987 – 1990

Member, Vienna Provincial Parliament and Municipal Council

1991 – 1996

Vienna City Councillor and Member of Vienna Provincial Government

1996 – 1998

Second President, Vienna Provincial Parliament and Municipal Council

1996 – 2005

Member, Vienna Provincial Parliament and Municipal Council

1998 – 2005

Chairman of the FPÖ Parliamentary Party in the Vienna Provincial Parliament and Municipal Council

1998 – 2004 

Provincial Party Chairman, FPÖ Vienna

2005

Interim FPÖ Federal Party Chairman

Since 2005

Honorary FPÖ Chairman

2006 – 2007

Ombudsman

2007 – 2017

President of the Political Academy of the Freedom Party of Austria

Literature on Hilmar Kabas

  • An der Blauen Donau: Die Freiheitlichen in Wien, Freiheitliche Akademie Wien, 2020, Andreas Mölzer (ed.), “Hilmar Kabas”, pp. 77 ff.

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