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8th Dec 2016

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Far-right Austrian MEP withdraws from EU elections

  • The Austrian politician has been an MEP since 2004 (Photo: EUobserver)

Austrian MEP Andreas Moelzer, of the far-right Freedom Party, announced on Tuesday (8 April) he will quit the European election after making comments comparing the EU with the Third Reich.

“It is the obvious loss of confidence in my party that prompts me to do this,” Moelzer said, announcing the move.

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The governing parties – the Social Democrats and People’s Party – as well as the Green Party, the Jewish community and Austrian president Heinz Fischer had all demanded that Moelzer no longer run in next month’s EU vote.

The Austrian politician, who has been an MEP since 2004, had said the EU is in danger of turning into a “conglomerate of Negroes, where chaos multiplies through mass immigration."

He also compared the EU to Hitler’s Third Reich and was accused of having written a racist article about the Austrian soccer player David Alaba in his Magazine Zur Zeit two years ago. The article written under a pseudonym and Moelzer denies responsibility.

The controversial deputy underlined he is only withdrawing from the EU election campaign for the sake of his party.

The political storm is awkward for Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who has been trying to distance it from accusations of racism and anti-Semitism – not least because it could damage attempts to forge an alliance with other rightist parties in the EU.

Both France’s National Front and the Sweden Democrats criticised Moelzer’s behaviour.

Following a meeting between Moelzer and Strache on Monday, the party let it be known it was dropping the MEP.

Herbert Kickl, Freedom Party general secretary, said that Strache had made clear to Moelzer that such statements “were in no way acceptable and so were not compatible with running for such an important position”.

Kickl added that the party clearly distances itself from “national socialism and racism and considered itself a patriotic Austrian political force”.

National opinion polls suggest the Freedom Party could score around 27 percent in the EU elections and take first place ahead of the Social Democrats and the People’s Party.

Liberals expel Austrian MEP

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the liberal faction in the European Parliament on Tuesday expelled its only Austrian MEP Angelika Werthmann.

The political group took the decision after Werthmann announced she would run for the BZOe party in Austria, a rightist party, founded by the late populist politician Joerg Haider.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

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