Is­rael con­cerned over Aus­trian far-right vote

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY DANIELLA PELED FOR­EIGN ED­I­TOR

IS­RAEL HAS ex­pressed “deep con­cern” over the mas­sive suc­cess of the Aus­trian far-right in this week’s elec­tions.

The com­bined suc­cess of the far­right par­ties amounted to al­most a third of all votes cast in the early elec­tions, called af­ter Aus­tria’s coali­tion col­lapsed in June. They may now be called upon to help form a new gov­ern­ment.

“We re­gard what hap­pened as a mat­ter for deep con­cern,” said For­eign Min­istry spokesman Yi­gal Pal­mor. “It is ex­tremely pre­oc­cu­py­ing that el­e­ments which pro­mote xeno­pho­bia and Holo­caust-de­nial and be­friend neo-Nazis are gain­ing po­lit­i­cal ground and ob­tain­ing wide­spread sup­port. We will fol­low de­vel­op­ments very closely.”

The Free­dom Party took 18 per cent of the vote, with its for­mer leader Jörg Haider tak­ing 11 per cent with his break­away Move­ment for Aus­tria’s Fu­ture.

Just weeks ago, Ariel Muz­i­cant, the pres­i­dent of the Aus­trian Jewish com­mu­nity, said that al­though Mr Haider’s party had for­mally dis­tanced it­self from the Nazis, “if you scratch be­low the sur­face, those well-known un­der­ground Nazis come out, and in droves”.

Mr Haider’s Free­dom Party came sec­ond in the 1999 elec­tions, and its in­clu­sion in a gov­ern­ing coali­tion the fol­low­ing year led to Is­rael re­call­ing its am­bas­sador from Vi­enna.

How­ever, Mr Pal­mor de­clined to com­ment on whether Jerusalem was con­sid­er­ing any sim­i­lar mea­sures.

“It is pre­ma­ture to make fore­casts on Is­raeli ac­tions or even the make-up of the next Aus­trian gov­ern­ment,” he said.

An­a­lysts said that the suc­cess of the far-right was partly due to protest vot­ing on is­sues in­clud­ing dis­il­lu­sion­ment with the main cen­trist par­ties.

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