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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Haider: Is Europe over-reacting?
Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party has been sworn in as part of Austria's new coalition government, sending shockwaves throughout Europe.
The European Union has immediately imposed political sanctions to try and isolate Austria.
Do you think Europe is over-reacting - or is it not going far enough?
We took your comments LIVE in our studio debate.
Your comments since the programme
The EC should be looking at ways to cut down these migrations by cancelling the Schengen agreement and placing tighter controls on borders and then maybe voters will have less to fear and far right extremists will have nothing to feed on.
I certainly do not like Haider or his politics, however, you cannot force a democratically elected party to resign or exclude it from co-oporation in the EU.
Which party is the next? And who is to decide? Social democrats or Christian Democrats?
If a party does not qualify for standing at a parliamentarian election, you must use constitutional means with proofs etc.
People are worrying about xenophobia in Austria....what about recent ill-favour between the French and British? This involved flag burning etc. And those are two countries with professional armies and nuclear weapons!! A lot more scarier prospect, don't you think?
Let's not lose the plot here. Give the "Freedom Party" a chance - innocent until proven guilty......so we are told. EU back down - I live in a democratic country, I don't want to be under an Imperial banner!
Rob Beavan, England
There has been considerable hypocrisy on the part of European countries condemning the Austrian government. Many western European governments have had coalitions involving communist parties, which often praised Soviet atrocities. There have never been any suggestions that coalition governments involving communist ministers are illegitimate.
It is true that other nations are hypocritical in
condemning Haider, especially the Americans.
However it is not logical to justify one evil by another.
The EU should keep up a judicious level of pressure if only
to help the "freedom"[sic] party leader to trip over
his trendy rhetoric.
Herr Haider is a PR fool. He should say that his reason for being against immigration is to keep out "Islamic terrorists". He would then immediately become the darling of the West and would be lionised by the West, and he would be forgiven, in the same way that the West forgave Russia for its brutal genocide in Chechnya, which was carried out under the pretext of eliminating "Islamic terrorists."
Here we have a dangerous situation where fascism may re-surface. Democracy may have put him into power, but can it take him out if he decides to do way with it?
Isolating a country only raised hostility against the isolators - look at what is still happening in Gibraltar, which Spain has lost for the next few generations at least. If the governing coalition is no threat to the EU's principles, then let it be. The Austrian government is no doubt aware of the rules of the EU and so far seems willing to work within those rules. Until they break the rules, I suggest everyone suspends judgement and works to allay Austrian fears about their future in the EU.
Both my grandfather and father spent a lot of years fighting against fascism. The first lost his life as a result. Nevertheless, I can't imagine that we accept the existence of some EU parties, we support the right of people to vote for these parties - obviously in order to see them in the Government - but when the last happens, we say 'oops! THIS party can't govern!' No political logic, Ladies and Gentlemen... I think that the EU has to confront the reasons and not the consequences. And I believe that the reasons are closely related to it's own (EU) social and economic policy.
Far right politics in this day and age! Won't work. Try to visualise a fortress Europe in a predominantly non-white world bedevilled with pollution and the other problems that we are being increasingly confronted with as a global community. Will probably work for a while but then degenerate along with the rest in a foul and putrid polluted mess. No, the voters across the world, and that includes Europe, will have to wake up to one hard fact, co-operation is our only option - to solve all the frustrating problems of the latter day world, including immigration.
With all due respect, Austria once produced the most evil person ever walked on earth, Hitler, and its only wise that Europe and the rest of the world do not take Haidar lightly..
This hype about Haider is silly. The man has his principles, Israel gets away with more and they are not even a democracy, since they have no constitution. More tolerance for everyone in this world.
This row over the new Austrian government reeks of the strongest hypocrisy. My own government is a case in point. For Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright have made such a fuss over an alleged Nazi in a "coalition" government, while at the same time they have rushed to embrace the members of a Communist-only dictatorship in mainland China.
I find it hard to believe that a far right politician with beliefs alongside that of Hitler, is able to become part of a ruling government. I agree that to alienate the Austrians is as good as negating three quarters of Austria who did not vote for him. To do this is to forget and not tackle the fundamental point that this man is wrong and that we need to engage the problems that he could cause and the outcomes. To ignore this is a repetition of 61 years ago.
Really I just have two questions.
1. Is democracy really that great?
2. How about freedom of speech?
I always thought democracy and freedom of speech were deemed virtuous by the 'west'.
I don't think it's anything to worry about. It's to be expected that on occasions voters (who can often vote impulsively) will vote for fringe candidates, whether from the Left or Right. And from time to time such parties will control the balance of power - that's democracy at work - everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. We had similar situation in Australia with the One Nation Party (very racist and very good at generating publicity). But two years on they are declining. As long as democratic institutions are maintained then nothing major can go wrong.
This is absurd, Haider is not the next Hitler, he is a right wing populist leader. He was elected by popular vote and it is shocking and frightening to see the EU and other countries attempting to interfere with Austria's internal politics in this way
We either live with democracy - and Haider, or his far-Left equivalent if necessary - or we admit that we have been paying lip-service to the concept of democracy for years. But in truth are only prepared - now we have the strength of numbers thanks to the EU - to permit those opinions that, currently, we are prepared to accept. That of course is surrender to one of the nastiest aspects of extremes, Left and Right.
I heard several people mention the dangers of underreacting and mentioning WWII. But I think we should also worry about overreacting and think about WWI. Some countries are trying to cut their ties to Austria but this is clearly not the right way to go about it. Disengagement often causes the worst to happen. What really needs to happen is to make these countries feel more a part of the world they live in. If we can help mono-cultured nations like Austria to view their neighbours across the border not as foreigners but fellow human beings, people like Haider will no longer be able to prey upon the fears and worries of people.
The popularity gained by Dr. Haider, which I am hearing, seems to draw its parallel from China's former Chairman Mao. Before the uprising he was unknown challenger of KMT's leader, Chiang. While Chiang's supporters were partying away their various victories, Mao was working up the emotions of the people against Chiang. His popular exhortations was to work towards equality for all. I think Dr. Haider is voicing the secret wishes of his supporters distaste for present processes or policies. I think the danger is that Dr Haider knows what makes these people so disgruntled. It seems to me that he is able to seize the opportunity and portray a 'hope' or 'change for the better'.
I sincerely do not believe that he will become another Adolf Hitler. Our world is different from Hitler's time. For one thing, we are thinking people who are well connected via modern technology.
It would be unwise to get him so much limelight and even more unfair to deny the whole population of Austria the action of a few.
When people like Haider came to authority in Europe
that is really dangerous. That is an indication that people in Europe
do not know the history of the last century. People don't remember
how much it costs when Nazis come to authority.
Do you remember how many people were killed during the
Second Wold War?
Do not isolate Austria! That is not a right way!
This can only help to populist Haider. Solve the problem together.
Much of the outcry is based upon the "what-ifs" of this situation. Currently none of the contentious views of this man have been moved towards policy. However, to ignore the fact that the path this party seems to want to take perhaps be in direct contravention of the Treaty of Amsterdam is some cause for concern. I refer specifically to the articles on asylum, immigration and on human rights.
The fuss about Dr. Haider inevitably appears as overdone, or worse,
considering how little vocal the media are about the recent alliance of the
socialists and the communists in Spain. In Madrid last weeks there were
explicit references to the civil war, during which the Marxist forces
killed over 10,000 thousand priests. Is this acceptable in the EU?
If Haider is just a populist why did he make comments about how good some of
Nazi Germany's policies were? There seems no need. Surely, he must have
thought that such comments would alienate most Austrians rather than win
South European countries are all suffering from clandestine immigration
just like Austria. This is an issue that should be handled at a European
level. For as long as this does not happen Haider-like characters will
have it their way.
My take on Haider is that it's an internal Austrian problem. We Americans are also very much concerned about the One World Government and it sounds like the European Union is a good start in that direction. The solution is that if Haider starts to get any control, then do something.
What about democracy? If the man was elected why impose harsh conditions on his people, whether people agree or disagree the result, the EU should respect it. Give them the benefit of the doubt and see the man before you make any judgment.
Kurt Pulker, Austria
I strongly disapprove of the rise of a pro-Nazi political party not only in Austria, but in any other country. I think it should be nipped in the bud by means of international legislation.
Apparently, it is no use isolating Austria or trying to cancel the
results of the elections. A sensible way of behaving towards this is
to provide extensive coverage of the new Austrian government's deeds, so
the new generation of the West Europeans would be aware of the fear of a new
So, some callers think Haider "dangerous" and at least one
considers him "silly."
Harald Pohl, Germany
As a country which has dark memories of foreign aggression, Korea shares the concern about the ideological direction Austria will take.
Nationalism fueled by far-right xenophobic movements would make uneasy, not only its own people and neighbours, but other nations as well. We have drawn a priceless historical lesson from the atrocious crimes committed under such fanaticism. This is why so many people in Austria have demonstrated against the emergence of a new government including a far-right party. Now that the coalition government has vowed to take a democratic and pluralistic line, it ought to deliver.
The inclusion of the far right in the Austrian government should act as a wake up call to democrats throughout the continent. Obviously we are yet to learn the lessons of history. The climate of intolerance and hatred directed at refugees and minorities across the continent is a serious cause for concern.
I tuned in late to this discussion and I am appalled by what I have heard so
far. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is a lady that you are turning to
for comment that seems to have forgotten that left wing lilly liberalism is
dead. Since when has nationalism and a pride in your country become facism?
To deny the people of Austria their democratic right to the type or form of
representation they choose, during a democratic process no matter how
abhorrent that view or representation may be to others, is a denial of
In the north of Italy we have immigrant over-population and I am glad the EU failed in its attempt to meddle with internal affairs in Austria.
Neil Van Siclen, Germany
An American who has taught English to Germans in Berlin for 11 years, I
have had the opportunity to have many conversations with older citizens
here, and have learned about the slow creep of antisemitism during the
Insinuating distrust and hate of those who are different from us, which has
in the past led to unfair discrimination and indeed their incarceration and
murder, ought to be recognized as that, and I feel that the present voice
of the other EU countries is politically responsible.
Kovacs Imrich, Slovakia
Joerg Haider is not the new Hitler but he is certainly a fascist who failed to dennounce the SS, uses Goebbels' expressions and denies responsibility for the Holocaust. But the main question is why so many Austrians voted for his party. This is what the EU have to think about. In the UK there is a lot of cynicism. Tabloids denounce Haider one day and accuse Afghans of hijacking a plane just to get asylum the next day. There are a lot of fascists and people opposed to immigrants in most EU countries, including the UK. Any time I go to the Immigration Office I feel discriminated.
The inclusion of the far right in Austria democratically elected is not our business, BUT the moment any threat to another country became apparent, they should be confronted militarily without delay.
We Austrians have the highest number of refugees of all European countries. We have made a good policy and many other countries have the same problems with too many foreigners.
Haider must be confronted firmly and clearly to take a clear moral stand, irrespective of political considerations. Wherever you compromise on clear morality you pay a higher price later.
Also, there must be a greater education campaign as to why this is being done and is necessary.
Mr Haider must be kicked out of European politics, and so must the people of Austria, if they continue with such crazy ideas. The events of 1933 must not be repeated.
Thats what some people think, no care about democracy no need to be informed before starting the attack. Thats crazy! What DO YOU anti-austrians and anti-democrats think what we are? Haider is not a NAZI or our previous ruling party, the socialists would have taken him to jail for many many years. The law in Austria forbids all signs of the Nazis to be shown. It forbides the denial of the holocaust and the other crimes of NAZI-Germany (which was not part of Austria but vice versa) and the courts over here are very strict on that.
No Austria is not a country of NAZIs, we are just tired of being called so from people being far right of us!
Erwin Bendl, Austria
Jorg Haider was not elected by some unfortunate mystery but by
the very people of Austria. If on the one hand here is an opportunity for
the international community to raise its voice to demonstrate its
determination against all kinds of neofascistic phenomena, but on the other hand
we risk making a mockery of democracy.
I live in Slovakia and a
great many of our people go to work to Austria illegally because of the
catastrophic situations of our economy. What it means to people like Haider?
A chance to get votes because people like him have the mastery of
stirring up the situation. So far Haider had done nothing against human
rights. Why should not he have the chance to show what he is up to?
Europe's reaction is quite understandable because of history.
They will always look more on Austria and Germany than on other
countries. But nonetheless they have overreacted.
In Austria we have the problem that despite our general good economic
situation we have two parties that have been too long in power (SPÖ,
ÖVP) and one that is too small (Green Party). It is a pity that the only
strong alternative is disqualified by the absolute unacceptable
"sayings" of his leader Jörg Haider.
My proposal would be to listen not only to his words but to that of the
new government and of course watch their deeds.
I think Europe should try to find ways to boycott persons that are
xenophobic not countries because that could be counterproductive.
We have politicians in India who have expressed their admiration for Hitler and who enjoy significant popular support.
Living in open, free, democratic, secular India, it is for us to persuade by political arguments, through democratic means to eradicate this undesirable growth in our body politic. I would not wish any outsider - be they European Union or Britain or USA to poke their ugly noses into Indian politics.
The people of Austria are entitled, if they wish, to vote for the devil himself, but the mere fact that his election is democratic places no obligation on other countries to work with him. Austrians who voted for Haider must be made to realise that there is a price to pay for their misanthropic views.
Mark Bossanyi Sofia, Bulgaria
The scary thing about this whole subject is not the views of Joerg Haider, distasteful as they may be. Much more disturbing is the speed at which the rest of the European Union countries and the US decided that they could interfere with the result of what is acknowledged to be an honest and democratic process. Austria is not in the grip of a dictator whose election was based on fraud and dishonesty.
Like it or not, we as a society have to deal with Joerg Haider and his Freedom Party. His party was voted into the position they have today.
My impression is that the further South one goes in Gemany, the less strong the reaction to the inclusion of the far right in Austria's government - what I hear is condemnation, disbelief and embarassment, along with calls for economic sanctions. Then on TV I see Edmund Stoiber in Bavaria saying Europe is overreacting...maybe, in order to live with itself, Bavaria needs to forget that the last time Europe underreacted the second world war and the holocaust was the result.
I am not a supporter of the Freedom Party, or of Mr Haider, but the international outcry over the Party's inclusion in the Austrian Government leads me to draw these 2 conclusions regarding the critics of the FP: One, they are not totally committed to the democratic process. (Today the FP, who next tomorrow?); and
two, they don't have total confidence that our existing international legal and political structures are equipped to deal with the excesses we are told the FP will visit upon the people of Austria, Europe, and the world.
Thorleif Forford, Sweden
The EU are rounding on Haider to draw attention away from the massive corruption, waste and inefficiency of the Commission and it's cronies. Haider is nothing more than a convenient whipping boy, especially given that many 'respectable' EU nations also have extreme-leftists and rightists involved in their coalitions. It's very noticeable that the country that has reacted most strongly - France - is also a bastion of the sort of corrupt old-style Euro-bureacracy that Haider condemns. This holds most of Europe back from the real progress that it could make. Haider is only arguing that we should do away with the out-dated Eurocracy and modernise - in this regard, he is just like Blair. The overreaction to Haider is just the media acting as poodles to the fat cats in Brussels.
Joerg Haider has been mugged by the international media. He has correctly stated that he is not concerned by the phony hoopla, that his energy goes toward representing the voters of Carinthia. In this respect, the world could use more politicians like Haider.
Villach, Haider's hometown, is a focal point for would-be immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and from other Balkan states, and for immigrants attempting to enter the EU from Africa and the middle east. Villach and all of Carinthia have had to deal with problems which other EU regions do not face. It is hypocritical to brand Haider anti-immigrant without taking the geo-political reality of his region into account. And to call him a nazi for his views on immigration is just plain lying. I don't recall that the Nazis ever had any sort of immigration policy...they didn't need one.
Julien Leys, Auckland, New Zealand
The FPO is a democratic party and far less extremist than some parties which are admitted into office in other EU countries - ie France.
If this is democracy as understood by Brussels, I have changed my mind and am happy Norway is not an EU member.
The act by EU throws the concept of democracy into jeopardy; the right of the people to choose their representative is being questioned. These are immature acts which are the basis for prejudices across the boundaries.
The rest of the world should respect and accept the Austrian peoples democratic right to duly elect whichever political party they chose to represent them in government. Instead, if the west is genuinely concerned about the rise of ultra nationalism, fascism or powers of any other types of far-right in the world, then they should consider and concentrate fighting the causes that act as sustenance to these movement in the world such as unemployment, inequity, poverty, youth problems, and etc. Isolation of Austria may lead to the Far-right Freedom Party gaining even more popularity.
Miguel Sanchez, Canada
Europe is not overreacting. It is only trying to nip the Nazism in the bud. Haider has sympathetic ears in the US Congress, particularly in the Republican Party. Today's article by George Will (a noted right wing columnist, and ABC News political commentator) in the editorial pages of major US newspapers will only prove my point. Nazism is not dead. It will raise it's ugly head anywhere in the world, given the right fertiliser (right wing rhetoric).
No, Europe is not over-reacting. Joerg Haider's rhetoric manifestly is pro-Nazi. We Europeans went there once before, in 1933-and look what happened.
No - the EU is not over-reacting, but not for the reason that people highlight. The EU is a political organism with a highly developed sense of survival and growth. Haider's party's stated intent is to shrink the power of state AND the EU. As such, the EU must fight him, before people realise they do not need the EU "organism" to be as powerful and all encompassing as it is becoming.
We should keep an eye on Haider but the EU's reaction is a deliberate smoke screen to hide the massive corruption in the EU that is being revealed. Kohl and Mitterand were involved in corruption on a huge scale and democracy is under threat from the EU as well. It is strange that the EU is quiet about the far left or about the UK allowing IRA terrorists into power!
Alberto Carrillo, México
In ancient Athens when the civilians started to exile those whose acts and words were thought to be a threat (even a minor one) to democracy, then the whole society started to decline. That is because in order to protect their democracy they stopped acting democratically. Fear made the EU (and other countries such as US) to take the decision not only boycott but also to isolate Austria. But we cannot permit our fear to take such an antidemocratic decision. I propose to all of us to be alert because Mr Haider is going to wait until all that concern blows off and then will make his move. I am not sure if then our governments will react rapidly.
In my opinion the EU has reacted correctly. I would argue that the EU reacted to the stage at which the government in Austria has been sworn in.
There is a difference between a party WITHIN A GOVERNMENT and a party with 27%of the votes.
The EU member countries, and thus their governments, share certain values and if one of the countries chose to 'go ahead' with policies which are not in accordance with them, the EU has the right to have its say, of course.
This uproar is about one thing and one thing only: the desperation of the EU heads to stem any rising tide of nationalism and any refusal to kow-tow to their embryonic fascistic nanny-state. The same governments who were content to form coalitions with communists (who just incidentally killed many times as many people as all of the "far right" governments in history have ever killed) wear their transparent hypocrisy on their sleeves. If you are European, here is what this means to you: Your keepers in your governments and the EU bureaucracy want you to be an individual, and nothing else. They don't want you to be a Brit, or a Belgian, or a Swede or a member of a trade union or any other group with which you can bond and stand together in defiance of bigger and bigger government. Their road is the road to slavery and submission. Get in the middle of the road and yell "halt!"
EU has no right to condemn the people of Austria for electing a political party, which they believed, will serve their nation best. A valid decision can not be made based on suspension. If EU is allowed to get away with such an arrogant approach we may be forced to say bye bye to democracy.
I am not a citizen of a European country so this whole issue seems a bit confusing to me.
Does the UE discriminate this way against countries, which have coalition governments that include 'leftists' with extreme views? Does the UE discriminate against countries with governments whose ranks include Communists? Just curious.
The very fact that the EU decided to take sanctions against a democratically elected government, which has not violated ANY human rights, speaks volumes about that organisation.
Austria's Coalition rose to power through proper, constitutional, democratic channels.
I find it hugely disturbing that the EU is willing to meddle with these processes.
What we Member States have created is a politically bigoted superstate with naive idealism and a clear lack of respect for its own people. Surely this is more dangerous than any right-wing populism
Way over-the-top reaction by the EU. This has given Haider even more support nationally, simply due to Austrians showing solidarity with him against other countries (so-called Waldheim effect)..
The EU has overstepped its authority in Austria's case. Since when have we started undermining democratic political processes in other countries? If the EU is so morally concerned about the potential implications of a far right leaders ascent to power by democratic process, however abhorrent it is still legal and within our existing democratic principles. Why then doesn't the EU condemn and censure those regimes currently enjoying unadulterated success in imposing their political will and breaking laws that are deemed undemocratic. The EU can turn a blind eye to selling arms to Turkey's unallocated govt, or it can ignore the plight of the thousands being killed and maimed in Chechnya by the Russians. And what decree was the EU following when it brazenly accepted the bombing in 1999 in Serbia totally against democratic principles and ethics of the UN leaving a flustered Kofi Annan to explain the hesitant UN stance. Any political party deserves a chance whatever it's political dogma or constitution. After all, this is the basic principle of democracy. By highlighting Jorg Haider's stance the EU have created a martyr for the right wing and given him unnecessary exposure and elevated him to a higher position than he would ever have achieved without this 'storm in a teacup'. Give an unscrupulous politician enough rope and he will eventually hang himself by letting down his constituents with his fallible and crude judgements. The same people who voted him in will vote him out. The EU has inadvertently played right into Jorg Haiders hand in effect creating a monster where previously only a rat existed.
Europe is not overreacting. Why wait for millions of innocent people to be murdered before we do something - remember 1939-45. Ok it was fifty years ago, but if we forget it will happen again. We should NEVER allow Nazi's to take power of a European country - democratically elected - I think not - most Austrians are outraged with the result. Get rid of them before it's too late.
Sanctions are being imposed on Austria, is this right? Why are we imposing sanctions? Because we do not want to see a repeat of the darkest episode of European History. That is something we all understand. However, we adopt liberal principles, one of those is the right to vote. The people of Austria have made a choice and we need to work with them
to influence them. I am against the European Union, because I am British, that does not mean I will ignore the E.U., that would be silly. We cannot, on the one hand, say we are democratic, and on the other, order a society to change its political views.
Wolfgang Herzog, Austria
Hitler came to power democratically.
How can people not have concern.
Let the EU do whatever is necessary to remove this man from power...before the world regrets it.
Benjamin Lewis, UK
Yes I will boycott Austria (my partner and I recently cancelled a skiing holiday) because a publicly avowed fascist is part of the government. To say (as a scary number of people have) that this is democracy and we should let it be is madness. We should not allow those espousing openly anti-democratic or illegal views to be in a position to be voted for in the first place.
I find the views of some of the commentators here quite staggering. Just because a nation democratically elects a certain party to power does not mean that the rest of the world should stay silent and accept that nation and it's values. Austrians, just like all free peoples, have an absolute right to elect to power whoever they wish. However, if they exercise that right in a way which offends universally accepted beliefs and a basic respect for human rights, then the world community has an obligation to make its objection known and exclude Austria from the community of civilised nations. After all, to misquote, "All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to stand by and say nothing"
How hypocritical can the can the world leaders get! On one hand they have Austria that is a fully democratically elected government which the people have chose and they say they want it to be replaced/removed. On the other hand you have non democratically elected military power of Pakistan which is now seeing some of the best days in its entire history also been asked to be removed even though the people have no quarrel with it. So what is right, in some countries you just can't win if you don't dance to tune of the New World Order you get branded as a some kind of monster by the EU and the USA and the media from them.
The outcry against a democratically elected member of the Austrian government is a phobic reaction by those who fear Haider's election will give a boost to the extreme right in other European nations such as France. Haider should be judged by his future actions and deeds not by exaggerated paranoia.
James Drage, UK
The EU is shooting the messenger. Thirty years of socialism have left the Austrians wanting change. Mainstream politics tried to ignore Haider and elevated him to power. The EU is now trying to do the same - with similar results. Haider gets votes by criticising the establishment of which he is now a part. Give him enough rope and he will hang himself. The EU wants to make a stand against extremism and has found a small country with a dubious period in its history to use as a punching bag. The minority of Europeans who are tempted by extremism are now looking carefully at the latest on the market.
Once again the EU is clearly showing it's anti-democratic tendencies. We should get rid of the EU as fast as possible, else the disaster will be unavoidable. The self-proclaimed 'leaders' of the EU are the real Nazis here!
The world is overreacting to a situation created by a democratic process of elections. Austria has the right to choose whomever it wishes to run its government.
Haider has a history of racist moves, and apologies can not nullify such acts. And let us not forget that Hitler had been voted into power by the German people and welcome by Austrian people.
20% does not mean Austrians love Haider so we can't point fingers at Austrians but this matter must be handled with care and I find EU's attitude right.
Mark Mattison, USA
If electing Haider is Austria's way of giving the proverbial finger to the New World Order left wingers then so be it. Three cheers for sovereignty! The EU is only a small piece of a much bigger, nastier picture. The EU ought to be stopped.
We should have made sure that it was instilled in the people of Austria and Europe how bad the war was. The people of Austria were treated rather softly in the last war they didn't have their country cut in two or their people subjected to executions, torture, looting and rape. Do we so easily forget that if it had gone the other way over half of the human race would be in chains right now and we wouldn't have democracy.
James Clarke, Britain
EU leaders are wrong if the think they
can turn the European Union into their
private social(ist) club.
Conservatives and industrialists have always thought that they can control populists and racists like Haider, but more often than not, they are wrong. Haider is a skilful politician who threatens the moral integrity of all EU states if his policies are allowed to go unchecked. We do not want copycats anywhere else.
My wife recently visited Austria, staying with friends in Vienna, and found the people polite, welcoming and generous.
Simply because a politician expresses doubts about mass immigration does not mean that he intends to exterminate vast swathes of the population or invade Poland.
Nico, Austrian in the UK
Some said that the Austrian People voted for Haider. They didn't - it was an act of coalition negotiations between political parties, not between groups of people. So the people are continuing their protest marches against this.
Hope we'll get rid of that as did the people of the former GDR with their SED - Régime.
Nobody took these steps in 1933 when Hitler came to power, but instead pacified him, with disastrous results. We cannot erase the past and pretend it never happened, but we can take steps now to prevent a repeat of it.
Grainne Phillips, Ireland
I find Israel's decision to remove its ambassador premature. The new Austrian government should be given time to prove itself and honour the democratic commitments it signed last week. The EU is right to feel apprehensive at this state of affairs but I hope that no rash economic sanctions or political isolation are carried out as it would also punish almost half of the Austrian electorate who chose not to support the People's Party or Mr. Haider's right-wing party. I agree with most commentators that any overreaction is due to Austria's shady WWII past. The ignominious legacy of Nazi atrocities is not as well remembered in Austria as perhaps it ought to be - this is far more shocking than a tilt to the right!
Lately the previously noble sentiments of sovereignty and national pride have been replaced by terms such as neo-Nazism, extremism and racism. These terms were of course invented by global institutions such as the EU. It is clear that sovereignty has no place in the EU, and never has. All EU member countries will subject themselves to the EU, which has NOT been elected democratically. How sad...
I totally disapprove of any kind of "far right" or "far left" ideology. But nor do I like the fact that world democracies are far too biased not to be accused of running so-called double-standard policies. They are meticulously ruminating over mild misdemeanours 'made' by certain countries whereas winking at obviously outrageous violations and unmitigated crimes committed by others, noticeably much more powerful. I reckon it's incumbent upon world democracies to ostracise all notorious regimes throughout the world, however great and brawny they are.
Deplorable as Haider's extremist comments may be, the person as well as the Austrian situation has to be put into perspective: Haider may be a populist, an opportunist. His comments are instrumental to his political cause but he does not seem to be a man of deep- rooted convictions and militant hatred. Haider is not the voice of racism, rather a defender of the rich and middle class in a wealthy country trying to keep the poor at bay. In this respect he resembles Margaret Thatcher and the New Tories more than any historic fascist phenomenon.
Let's give him a chance to fail, rather than creating a political martyr. He is having his 15 minutes of fame. Haider's got the looks and the vanity to fill this role. Why, if we loathe him, do we provide his audience?
The EU is most definitely over-reacting. Austrian voters duly elected Haider's party and their decision should be respected. Mr. Haider's remarks regarding the EU's dealings with Russia are right on target as the EU and the rest of the West continually engage, and excuse the crimes of, left-wing governments yet they now refuse to give Austria's right-wing coalition a chance to govern. If and when Austria violates human rights or commits any other crimes, that will be the time for the EU to take action against Austria. Until then the EU should back off.
Mr Haider was voted by a majority of people in Austria. Any attempt to put sanctions on Austria, is grossly undemocratic. It is like telling the people who to vote for, because if you do not vote for the people favoured by the powers that by in today's world then you will have to face sanctions!
The EU seem to have it just about right. Given Europe's history and demography, it would be a scandal to treat as business as usual a government that forms around a party that has anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi tendencies. The onus ought to be on the Austrians to demonstrate that these platforms will never become national ones.
Regardless what you think of the different sides of the political spectrum, in a democracy the voters select the composition of the national parliament, and consequently the power structure - in this case the government.
If you believe in democracy, then you believe that what the voters say goes.
The majority of people in western European think that we should stop mass immigration Mr Haider is only expressing what the silent majority of western Europeans want especially in Britain, where things are at breaking point with the amount of people trying to get in. There's plenty of people in the British Conservative party who think like Haider - Norman Tebbit for one.
Yeah, the EU is unnecessarily over reacting to the inclusion of Haider. If they think that Austria would be a threat to the general integrity of the EU they're wrong, 'cause Austria is a real small country, which would have absolutely no influence on the affairs of other countries. I think the whole issue has been over hyped.
The EU is finally reacting, but late (as always). Haider's "party" should have been forbidden a long time ago, but as a matter of fact it has not, so I think it is just cowardice of the EU leaving Austri of the EU leaving Austria alone to deal with the right-wing problem. If it would have been a left-wing party, it would have been forbidden a long time ago by the Austrians themselves.
This thing about Haider is a conspiracy by the socialists to whip up some media propaganda to demonise the right. Depending on what side of politics you are they will be called the "right" or the "far right".
I strongly object to the Austrian people's (let us say they are still people) bad taste. I have now read a lot of comments about this 'Far-Right' and others like it. You can twist it and decorate it how you like, but you can not avoid the true fact....:"HISTORY HAS A HABIT OF REPEATING ITSELF".
Now I know what the media in many countries think of prejudices:
they are bad except if you have them against Austrians.
The things I read about my country are in some ways so shocking,
that I ask my self: what have I done to be called
a Nazi, descendant of a disgusting people (a Norwegian newspaper) and
so on? I am Austrian, but is this the same as "monster"???
We'll never know outside Austria, but Haider was probably elected because of some sort of mundane dissatisfaction with the existing government, and a sensationalist and commercially motivated press have focused on the most controversial aspects of the man and his party. However much he is an extremist and a cause for close observation, the way to combat him is not with the shrieking sanctimoniousness of socialist European (and particularly British) youth that the rest of us are so sick of being preached at by. Of course Brussels is over-reacting, because they are one lot of self-righteous extremists confronted with another. They'd be as liberal about Haider if he were a potential Stalin, as Haider himself seems to be about Hitler.
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