Jörg Haider, the leader of the right-wing Austrian party BZÖ, was killed in a single-vehicle car crash early this morning.
According to Swissinfo:
Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider, a charismatic populist who helped thrust anti-immigrant politics into the European mainstream, was killed in a car accident on Saturday.
Haider, 58, who led the right into a coalition government from 2000 to 2006, polarised Austria and drew international condemnation with his anti-foreigner outbursts and for seeming to flirt with Nazi sympathies.
Last month, after years of retreat into provincial politics, he helped engineer a surge of Austria’s far right to 30 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election, mining discontent over feuding mainstream governing parties, inflation and immigration.
His spokesman Stefan Petzner said Haider, who was governor of Carinthia province, had been driving to his rural home near Klagenfurt early on Saturday morning for a family gathering to mark his mother’s 90th birthday when the accident occurred.
– – – – – – – – –
The car he was driving skidded out of control after he overtook another vehicle. He hit a concrete traffic barrier and rolled over several times, police said.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.
There’s no indication in any of the news articles that the incident was anything other than an accident.
Mr. Haider was originally leader of the FPÖ (Freedom Party), but split off to form the BZÖ (Alliance for the Future of Austria) after a disagreement over party policy. During the recent elections, the BZÖ garnered 11% of the vote, while the FPÖ received 18%.
It will be interesting now to see whether a new leader emerges to take charge of the BZÖ, or whether the two parties of the Right will reconcile and reunite.
Hat tip: Reinhard.