Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nazi running for Austrian president (in 2010)

From, March 08, 2010, by AFP correspondents in Vienna:

A FAR-RIGHT candidate for Austria's presidential election has brought the country's dark past to the surface once more, after denouncing a law banning Nazi groups and Holocaust denial.

Barbara Rosenkranz, 51, a regional party leader for the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) who was nominated last week, looks to be the sole candidate to run against incumbent President Heinz Fischer, a Social Democrat, on April 25.

But her comments supporting the scrapping of Austria's tough prohibition law have renewed the debate about a Nazi heritage the small alpine country has never fully come to terms with.

Austrian leaders and the press already fear for the country's image abroad. [Why is it always the "image" that's the issue? Don't just patch up the face, fix the whole rotten body... - SL]

Under the 1947 Verbotsgesetz law, anyone who seeks to set up a Nazi organisation, propagates Nazi ideology or denies Nazi crimes can be jailed for up to 20 years.

But Ms Rosenkranz, a mother of ten and the wife of an outspoken figure in Austria's far-right scene, insists the law constitutes "an unnecessary restriction" and that, on the contrary, people should be allowed freedom of opinion.

In 2003, the European Court of Human Rights already allowed a journalist's description of her as a "closet-Nazi", noting that her attitude towards Nazism was ambiguous.

Such comments from a woman running for the country's highest office prompted scorching criticism from politicians of all colours, civil groups and the Catholic Church.

Ms Rosenkranz's own supporters also did what they could to limit the damage.

"Somebody like this is not eligible for election," said Vienna's Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, while the Jewish community described her as "an embarrassment for Austria."

"Rosenkranz challenges the Republic's anti-fascist foundation, that is unacceptable," Social Democrat Defence Minister Norbert Darabos said.

Meanwhile, Hans Dichand, publisher of the influential tabloid Kronen Zeitung, reversed his earlier position and urged Ms Rosenkranz to "distance herself from all national-socialist ideas", just days after he had called on voters to support her.

...[Ms Rosenkranz's] local priest revealed she had left the Church years ago and that none of her ten children - who carry old German names like Mechthild, Hildrun, Arne or Sonnhild - had been baptised.

She has also come under fire over her husband's connections with top figures in the Austrian and German far-right scene.

Horst Jakob Rosenkranz, who was once a member of the now banned neo-Nazi NPD party, still publishes a far-right newspaper called Fakten (Facts).

Ms Rosenkranz has never distanced herself from his activities, but in an interview with the daily Die Presse published overnight, she said: "I have never shown I was close to Nazism...."

...Commentators already fear the "horror scenario" of a far-right presidential win - especially if turnout remains low as expected - while anti-Semitic comments have already appeared in her support in online forums...

Also see the following postings Austria:

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