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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 March, 2005, 23:02 GMT
Haider plans Freedom Party return
By Kerry Skyring
BBC News , Vienna

Joerg Haider
Haider's charisma helped the Freedom Party to electoral success
The former leader of Austria's Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, says he wants to resume control of the far-right party.

His statement came after the party, part of Austria's governing coalition, suffered yet another embarrassing election defeat.

Mr Haider told Austrian radio he required a united team and final say over policies and candidates.

The party was Europe's most successful far-right group five years ago, but has been attacked for xenophobic policies.

It has also faced criticism for statements seen as sympathetic to the Nazis.

Mr Haider's sister, Ursula Haubner, is officially leader of the party, but both she and her brother are increasingly under attack from their own right-wing, which blames them for a dramatic drop in voter support.

At the national level, they can barely muster 10% in opinion polls, and in recent local elections they polled less than 4%. A letter, circulated by sacked members of the party, accuses Mr Haider of betrayal. Opinion polls show that Mr Haider as leader could lift the popularity of the party, but the turmoil could have implications for Austria's coalition government.

Vice-Chancellor Hubert Gorbach, a Freedom Party minister, has spoken of a "crash scenario", implying the possibility of a coalition split and early election.

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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