Saturday

23rd Sep 2017

Austrian President calls on race row MEP to stand down

Austrian President Heinz Fischer has waded into the race row engulfing the far-right Freedom party, calling on the party's top candidate to withdraw from next month's European elections because of racist comments.

Andreas Moelzer, an MEP since 2004, said at a Freedom party event last month that the European Union was in danger of becoming a "conglomerate of Negroes" and added that it made Hitler's Nazi Germany look "informal and liberal".

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Speaking on Monday (7 April), Fischer said that Moelzer should step down and that his remarks were "out of place in the European Parliament".

Moelzer, who is currently the top candidate in the Freedom Party list, has since apologised for his comments, although he claims not to remember making the first remarks.

Opinion polls for the May elections currently put the Freedom party in a near dead-heat with the centre-right People's party and the social democrats on between 20-22 percent of the vote.

Moelzer's comments are particularly embarrassing at a time where far-right parties are making studious attempts to distance themselves from accusations of racism.

The Freedom party is bidding to form an alliance led by Marine Le Pen's National Front, Gert Wilders' Dutch Freedom party and Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang, together with other groups such as the Sweden Democrats.

Kent Ekeroth, a national MP for the Sweden Democrats, has also joined the condemnation of Moelzer, telling a national newspaper that "this outrage cannot be tolerated".

However, Moelzer's fate may be decided at a meeting of his party bosses on Wednesday (9 April).

"There will be a personal talk between me and Andreas Moelzer and of course we will have to evaluate and judge the many accusations," said Heinz-Christian Strache.

He added that "everybody in the FPO community has to pay particular attention to the vocabulary they use".

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Hungary and Poland have said they "don't want a mixed population", amid a tug-of-war with the Commission on migrants and rule of law.

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Thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets, in protest against the Spanish government's efforts to prevent the independence referendum. Both sides know that violence would go against their cause.

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