Haider's party scores 'posthumous triumph' for its founder

In regional vote, The Alliance for Austria's Future wins 45.6% in southern Austrian state of Carinthia.

By JPOST CORRESPONDENT, BERLIN
March 3, 2009 21:32
1 minute read.
Haider's party scores 'posthumous triumph' for its founder

J?rg Haider Jorg 224 88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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The Alliance for Austria's Future, an extremist anti-immigrant party founded by Jörg Haider, won 45.6 percent of the vote on Sunday in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia. The Austrian media termed the outcome a "posthumous triumph" for Haider, who died over four months ago in a high-speed car crash in Carinthia that occurred when he was driving intoxicated. Haider founded the Alliance party in 2005 and had served as governor of the southern Alpine state for 10 years and was active in the state's politics since 1979. Haider's widow, Claudia Haider, presented a photo of her husband to the Alliance's re-elected candidate for governor, Gerhard Dörfler, at the party celebration on Sunday. She attributed the Alliance victory as recognition for her late husband's political achievements. The Alliance increased its election result from 42.4% in 2004 for Haider, who was then part of the radical right Freedom Party, to 45.6% in 2009. The Social Democratic Party experienced a 10% plunge to 28.6% of the vote in Carinthia, and absorbed heavy voter losses in the Salzburg election. The far-right xenophobic Freedom Party secured 13% of the vote in Salzburg, boasting a 4.3% increase. The Freedom Party and the Alliance for Austria's Future amassed nearly 30% of the vote during the national Austrian election in 2008. Dr. Stephan Grigat, a political scientist at the University of Vienna and editor of the book Transformation of Post-Nazism: The German-Austrian way to Democratic Fascism, told The Jerusalem Post , "Neither the great success of the extremists in Carinthia nor the increases for the FPO in Salzburg are a surprise. My colleagues and I pointed out in 2003 that the horror of the normal state of post-Nazi society in Austria would remain even without Jörg Haider." Israel severed diplomatic ties with Austria in 1989 and 2000 because of neo-fascist developments. "The terrible thing is not so much the success of extremists, but the way they are courted by conservatives and Social Democrats," said Grigat. The shift to radical far-right politics in Austria has alarmed many observers in Israel and Austria. The mainstream parties - the Social Democrats and Conservatives - praised Haider at his funeral in October.

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