Austrian far-right abandons ‘Nazi flower’
A FAR-RIGHT party expected to be part of Austria’s new coalition government has given up wearing a flower associated with the Thirties Nazi movement in the country.
When MPS from the Freedom Party (FPÖ) took their seats at Thursday’s opening session of parliament, they were not wearing their customary buttonholes of blue cornflower but edelweiss, a white and yellow Alpine flower and traditional Austrian symbol that is best known outside the country for its appearance in The Sound of Music.
The FPÖ’S use of the cornflower has caused controversy in Austria, where it was used as a secret sign of support for the banned Nazi party in the Thirties.
The decision by its 51 MPS to ditch the flower was welcomed by Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old who is expected to become Austria’s next chancellor after winning last month’s election. He said: “A new legislative period is always an opportunity for a fresh start.”
Mr Kurz is currently in talks on forming a new coalition with the Free- dom Party’s support after his centreright People’s Party (ÖVP) failed to win an outright majority.
Heinz-christian Strache, the Freedom Party leader who is in line to become vice-chancellor, said the party had chosen the edelweiss as a symbol of “courage, bravery and love”.
Mr Strache was arrested in Germany in 1989 for taking part in a Hitler Youthstyle torchlit neo-nazi rally. He has also been photographed posing with guns alongside known neo-nazis.