The success of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party led by Joerg Haider stunned Europe two years ago. With anti-EU, anti-immigrant policies and its leader’s apparent nostalgia for the fascist era, the Freedom Party grew from the extreme fringes of Austrian politics into a powerful force.
The party entered the Austrian Government coalition after a shock local election victory in the south of the country. Mr Haider’s success triggered EU political sanctions, but gave hope to other European far-right parties aiming to match his achievement.
He stepped down as party leader before taking office, but has remained an influential figure. Analysts suggest his resignation was a shrewd move -the Freedom Party has struggled to achieve the same impact in office as it did in opposition.
Mr Haider recently announced he was to retire from frontline politics, but his presence – and influence - in Austrian politics looks set to continue.