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Sunday, November 24, 2002

Haider Opposition Bound?

The latest polls from Austria indicate that Joerg Haider's 'Freedom Party' may be heading for a big electoral defeat. So much the better! The analysis in this Washington Post article also seems fairly sensible and sound. These parties thrive on fear of all that is different and unknown, trying to take political advantage of the shock to Europe's traditional parties posed by the profound changes will follow Europe's opening to the world. The irony seems to be that since these parties base themselves on negative attitudes, then the tasks and responsibilities of government wear them down rapidly. Thus in Ausria and Holland they seem to be on the decline, whilst in Denmark and Belgium their influence seems to be growing.

The far-right surge that catapulted Austria's Freedom Party into the governing coalition in 1999 and prompted consternation across the European Union appears to be over, according to opinion polls ahead of parliamentary elections on Sunday. Damaged by feuds and defections, much of it fueled by the backroom machinations of its mercurial off-stage leader, Joerg Haider, the Freedom Party has seen its support plummet and the party seems likely to return to an opposition role. And that, according to Austrian political analysts, is exactly what Haider wants, as it provides him a refuge from which to reassert control over wayward proteges while continuing to throw grenades at the establishment before making another run for power.
Source: Washington Post

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