Defiant Populist: Jorg Haider and the Politics of Austria

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A great deal has been said and written about Jorg Haider, the charismatic but controversial leader of Austria's Freedom Party. To some he is a neo-Nazi and admirer of fellow Austrian Adolf Hitler’s policies. To others he is merely an artful opportunist, a telegenic master of coded sound bites and slogans that means different things to different people. And to that quarter of the country's voters who voted this glamorous rabble-rouser's Freedom Party (FPO) to power in 1999, he represents a fresh alternative to the...
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Overview

A great deal has been said and written about Jorg Haider, the charismatic but controversial leader of Austria's Freedom Party. To some he is a neo-Nazi and admirer of fellow Austrian Adolf Hitler’s policies. To others he is merely an artful opportunist, a telegenic master of coded sound bites and slogans that means different things to different people. And to that quarter of the country's voters who voted this glamorous rabble-rouser's Freedom Party (FPO) to power in 1999, he represents a fresh alternative to the incestuous two-party oligarchy that had run Austria for a half century. This book goes a long way in explaining how his use of rhetoric and language style reminiscent of Nazi leanings have promoted his meteoric rise to political power, and how this same rhetoric could possibly be this man's downfall. For instance, he has been outspoken about endorsing Hitler's unemployment practices, as well as calling former SS veterans, "men of character." As a result, among his FPO party members, there are rumors of a split, for there are some who object to his use of language, and his penchant for using the Nazi agenda as a backdrop for their party's political domination. Defiant Populist is about de-bunking the Haider myth created by the love-hate relationship of a clever maverick and the media who feed upon one another. To be understood, the Haider phenomenon needs to be seen in the context of the strange politics of a country that leads a very sheltered existence in the heart of Europe and yet continues to be the odd man out in more ways than one, from machine politics to neutrality, from its hang-ups about past glories to its ambivalent approach to its German and European identity, from its conservative mentality to its lack of a real conservative tradition in politics. This book explains and analyzes the "Haider phenomenon" from the context of a country of contrasts: an admirable record of non-violence and social peace with residual anti-Semitism, socialist economics with enviable wealth, staunchly pro-Western values with equally ardent neutralism, and a relatively new Austrian identity with a dark German past. Lothar Hobelt is one of Austria's leading modern political historians. In addition to over a hundred articles, he has published ten books, including Republik im Wandel: Die große Koalition und der Aufstieg der Haider-FPÖ, and Von der Vierten Partei zur Dritten Kraft: Die Geschichte des VdU. He appears regularly in print, radio, and television media, both at home and abroad, as an authority on Jörg Haider and the Freedom Party. Dr. Hobelt has held visiting professorships at the Universities of Chicago and New Orleans, and has taught since 1983 at the University of Vienna.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557532305
  • Publisher: Purdue University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Series: Central European Studies Series
  • Pages: 281
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface: Debunking the Haider Myth
Foreword
1 Austria: Odd Man Out or Island of the Blessed? (1945-1986) 1
The "East End" of the West 1
The Freedom Party and Bruno Kreisky 8
The Dog That Did Not Bark: Austria's Muted Response to Neoconservatism 15
The Godfathers' Coalition 20
2 A Young Man on the Move (1950-1986) 25
The Makings of a Populist Conservative 25
Moving to the Deep South: Carinthia 32
The Lawful Revolution: The Innsbruck Congress 42
9 1/2 Weeks: The First Half-Million 47
3 The Halcyon Days: Leader of the Opposition and Governor of Carinthia (1987-1990) 53
Mock's Bad Luck: The Great Coalition Again 53
Haider's Good Fortune: Tangentopoli, Austrian-Style 57
The Night of the Blue Scarves 64
4 The Years in the Wilderness, Part I: Robin Hood and the Blue-Collar Vote (1991-1993) 71
"Proper Employment Policies": Haider's Fall from Grace 71
The Third Siege of Vienna: The Timing of the Immigration Issue 78
"Austria First": The Myth and Reality of Polarization 86
5 The Years in the Wilderness, Part II: Exiled from Europe? (1994-1996) 95
Prodigal Daughter: Schmidt's Secession 95
The U-Turn on EU 98
Breaking the Mold: The 1994 Election 105
Realignment: The New Workers' Party? 111
6 The Nazi Question Mark: The "Linguistic Turn" and the "Shadows of the Past" 117
A Post-Nazi Party? 117
Vergangenheitsbewaltigung: The Elusive Consensus 121
The Wehrmacht: Heritage or Heresy? 129
A War of Words - Or about Words? 134
7 The First American-Style Austrian Politician: Populism versus "Smoke-Filled Rooms" 143
Party Elders versus Boys' Brigade 143
Populism versus Machine Politics 151
Rewriting the Future: The Third Republic 159
8 Balance or Breakthrough? (1997-1999) 165
The Return of the Prodigal Son 165
"Had Enough?" The Elections of 1999 173
Business as Usual or Breakthrough? 180
9 Dal Ghetto al Palazzo (2000-2002) 187
A Blessing in Disguise: Fourteen plus One 187
A Last Case of Early Retirement or Reculer pour mieux sauter? 195
Thatcherism with a Social Conscience? Blood, Sweat, and Polls 201
10 Conclusion: The Alpine Redoubt of European Conservatism 211
An Enigma without a Riddle 211
Who Is Right on the European Right? 221
Postscript, September 2002 227
Appendix 231
Notes 233
Bibliography 265
Index 277
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