Austrian right-wing politician Joerg Haider dies in accident

October 11th, 2008 - 12:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Oct 11 (DPA) Joerg Haider, the leader of Austria’s right-wing Alliance for the Future of Austria, died in a car accident early Saturday, Austrian police confirmed.The accident occurred near Klagenfurt, capital of the province of Carinthia, where 58-year-old Haider was governor, around 2 a.m.

Haider was driving by himself when his car veered off the road and flipped over. Police are still investigating the cause of the accident.

The politician died of serious injuries to the head and chest, police said.

According to police, Haider was on his way from an event to his home in Feistritz, about 30 kilometres from Klagenfurt.

“For us, this is like the end of the world,” Alliance spokesman and deputy leader Stefan Petzner was quoted as saying by the Austrian press agency APA.

In parliamentary elections in late September, the populist leader’s Alliance got almost 11 percent in the ballots, nearly doubling the votes from the previous elections in 2006.

Haider’s party split in 2005 from the Freedom Party (FPOe), which gained prominence under Haider’s leadership in the 1980s and 1990s.

Haider was notorious for provocative statements, such as his assertion in 1991 that the Third Reich under Hitler had a “proper employment policy”. Nazi Germany had enslaved Jews and foreigners for its wartime economy.

In 2000, Haider led the Freedom Party into a government coalition as a junior partner of the conservative People’s Party. When the Alliance was formed in 2005, its officials took over the Freedom Party’s seats in cabinet until the coalition broke down in 2006.

The 2000 centre-right coalition, where Haider was not a cabinet member, met with strong criticism from European Union members, who reacted by implementing diplomatic sanctions against Austria.

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