Austrian rightist party struggling to woo voters

September 28, 2006 16:23

Seven years ago, a rightist firebrand who mocked Jews and praised some of Hitler's policies alarmed the international community by taking nearly 27 percent of the vote in national elections. On Sunday, Joerg Haider's successor at the helm of the Freedom Party is ramping up the xenophobic rhetoric before Austrians head to the polls Sunday - but it appears unlikely he'll match his predecessor's stunning result. It's not for lack of trying. The telegenic Heinz-Christian Strache has tried to woo voters with a campaign rap song, a superhero cartoon character that bears his initials, and provocative posters - the tamest of which read "The Patriot" and "Austria First." The 37-year-old dental technician took over as head of the Freedom Party in 2005 after Haider and his supporters broke away to form a new movement meant to reflect a turn toward relative moderation.

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