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Last Updated: Monday, 8 March, 2004, 05:46 GMT
Austria's Haider makes comeback
Joerg Haider celebrates new victory
Joerg Haider has a formidable power base in Carinthia
Austrian far-right politician Joerg Haider is set to remain governor of the province of Carinthia after an election result which confounded opinion polls.

His Freedom Party took 42.4% of the vote in the Alpine province compared with 38.4% for the Social Democrats.

A Social Democrat win had been forecast which would have forced a change in Mr Haider's controversial political life.

Nationwide support for the Freedom Party has declined dramatically since it entered government four years ago.

"No-one thought we'd be number one again," Mr Haider said after the results became known.

"In fact I did not expect that we will have a result like this, though I am very satisfied and thankful that the voters reacted to our work."

For much of the election campaign in Carinthia, his party had trailed behind the Social Democrats.

The Freedom Party's senior partner in government, the conservative People's Party, saw its share of the vote in Carinthia slump to 11.6% from nearly 21% at the last election in 1999.

Coalition jitters

The BBC's Bethany Bell says that it may be harder for Mr Haider to revitalise the Freedom Party in other parts of Austria.

At another provincial election on Sunday, in Salzburg, it lost half its support, plummeting to 10%.

The Social Democrats won a majority there for the first time in half a century and finished ahead of the People's Party.

Our correspondent adds that the losses for the conservatives and strong showing for the Social Democrats and Mr Haider in Carinthia could have a destabilising effect on the governing coalition.

Haider's enduring appeal
08 Mar 04  |  Europe
The politician who cries wolf
26 Nov 02  |  Europe
Haider withdraws offer to quit
26 Nov 02  |  Europe
Taming Austria's far right
25 Nov 02  |  Europe
Joerg Haider's fall from grace
25 Nov 02  |  Europe

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