Jörg Haider dies


Can the right-wing populists in Austria survive without an iconic leader? As I understand it, the Freedom Party fell apart without him, so I would expect the same for his new one.

However, I would say that he has already made a strong mark on Austrian and European politics, as the established parties have been compelled to take their positions into account.

Hard to tell. We have a similar party here in Denmark (Dansk Folkeparti - Danish Peoples Party) that absolutely depends on a strong party leadership and strict party discipline. In fact, this party came about because the previous right-wing populist party (Fremskridtspartiet - Progress Party) completely disintegrated due to the lack of strong leadership. But then again, such parties only exist in the first place because a considerable number of voters agree with them.


krise madsen

Hostility to immigration is only going to increase across the political spectrum as the recession is coming to Europe and unemployment is rising. Haider’s own party will certainly collapse and I don’t expect we’ll see another leader who panders so nicely to ageing Hitler fans, but that’s won’t make a great difference either – despite the media’s fear-mongering about the rise of the “far right” in Austria, the actual policies of both parties were tame social-democratic mainstream stuff. After all, the FPÖ split in the first place due to dissatisfaction when its government policies were virtually indistinguishable from its ÖVP coalition partner.

The real danger to Austrian democracy is that the system will now revert to the endemic corruption of an ÖVP/SPÖ grand coalition that gave rise to Haider in the first place. And if these two parties and their media allies continue to demonize the FPÖ and exclude this unwanted competition from the political process, they’ll just alienate a big chunk of voters from the democratic system entirely. But I guess they won’t care as long as they keep getting enough votes to continue their rule.

Also, the police should probably examine that car to determine if something was pandered with – brakes, wheels, etc. Someone like Haider would make an excellent assassination target for fanaticized leftists, like Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands. I’m not sure about the level of violence against right-wing politicians in Austria but it’s pretty dangerous for them in Germany – party members manning PR stands get assaulted quite often, and I recall that the windows of one Berlin restaurant had been smashed following an FPÖ meeting. Not that these stories ever get any national or international publicity unless someone actually gets killed.