Jörg Haider (26 January 1950 – 11 October 2008) was an Austrian politician. He was Governor of Carinthia and Chairman of the "Alliance for the Future of Austria" (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, BZÖ).
Haider was a long-time leader of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). When he stepped down as the FPÖ's chairman in 2000, he remained its major figure until 2005, when he founded the BZÖ in April. He was subsequently expelled from the FPÖ by its interim leader Hilmar Kabas.
Jörg Haider was born in the Upper Austrian town of Bad Goisern in 1950, a time when his parents' finances were rather moderate, and his elder sister, later Ursula Haubner, five years old. He was a good student in primary school and attended high school in Bad Ischl despite his parents' financial situation. Haider was reportedly always top of his class in high school. During his time in Bad Ischl he had first contacts with nationalist organizations, such as the Burschenschaft Albia, a right-wing student group.
After he graduated with highest distinction in 1968, he moved to Vienna to study law. During his studies he was affiliated again with a Burschenschaft such as Silvania. After graduating from the University of Vienna with the title of Dr. iur. in 1973 he was drafted into the Austrian Army where he voluntarily spent more than the mandatory nine months (called 'the voluntary one year'). In 1974 he started to work at the University of Vienna law faculty in the department of constitutional law.
Haider's rise to power in the FPÖ
The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) was founded in 1955, and initially was a mixture of various political currents opposed both to the political catholicism of the Austrian People's Party and the socialist views of the Social Democratic Party of Austria. With its roots in the Pan-German movement, it included both German-nationalist and liberal political views. In 1970 Haider became the leader of the FPÖ youth movement and headed it until 1974. Haider rose rapidly through the party ranks. In 1972, at the age of 22, he was already a well-established leader and was made party affairs manager of the Carinthian FPÖ in 1976. In 1979 he was the youngest delegate among the 183 members of parliament, at age 29. From 1983 his policies became more aggressive, when he rose to party head of the Carinthian FPÖ and started to criticise the leaders of the FPÖ, which at that time was still a minor political movement in Austria, usually winning only about 5–6% of the vote.
The decisive point of his career came in 1986 when he defeated Austrian Vice Chancellor Norbert Steger in the vote for party leadership at the party convention in September in Innsbruck; many delegates feared that Steger's liberal political views and his coalition with the Social Democrats threatened the party's existence.