Sunday, October 12, 2008
Excessive Speed Cited As Primary Cause Of Fatal Car Accident Of Austrian Far-Right Nationalist Leader Jörg Haider
Excessive speed has been cited as a primary possible cause of the car crash which killed Austrian nationalist leader Jörg Haider on Saturday October 11th, 2008. Full stories from AFP, CNN, and the International Herald Tribune. Political obituaries published by the Telegraph, the Washington Post, and Time.
Previous post HERE. Discussion continues on the Vanguard News Network Forum and Stormfront.
Photo gallery of the accident scene available HERE.
According to prosecutor Gottfried Kranza, investigators have determined that Haider was driving at more than twice the speed limit after leaving a political event held at a nightclub. Haider was doing 142 kilometres per hour in a 70kph zone. He lost control of his vehicle on damp pavement while overtaking another car. He skidded off the road and plowed into a concrete pole. The car flipped repeatedly before coming to rest almost 40 yards away. Haider was wearing a seat belt but died almost instantly of massive injuries to the chest and head. His neck may have been broken, with possible spinal injuries, and his left arm torn from his body. Haider's vehicle, a Volkswagen Phaeton V6, was new and in perfect condition. But Kranza did not say whether Haider had tested positive for alcohol.
There has been a public outpouring of grief in Klagenfurt, in Haider's home province of Carinthia, where he was governor. Hundreds of people held prayers, lit candles and placed wreaths on Sunday at government headquarters in Klagenfurt and also at the accident site. Austrian President Heinz Fischer described Haider's death as a "human tragedy". And foreign tributes are beginning to trickle in; in an article considerably biased against Haider and nationalism, the Sofia Echo reported that Bulgarian nationalist Volen Siderov, the leader of Bulgaria’s Ataka party, has sent condolences to the Alliance for the Future of Austria party after the accident. Siderov is also one of many who have questioned whether or not it was an accident. The Sofia Echo also tries to smear Siderov as being "anti-Semitic" and a "Holocaust denier".
Opinion is split on whether the death of Haider will result in the reunification of the Right in Austria. According to Reuters, Peter Pulzer, an expert on Austrian affairs at Oxford University, believes Haider's sudden departure should increase prospects of reunification between his splinter Alliance for Austria's Future and the bigger Freedom Party, because the firebrand populist was the main driver of the split between the Alliance and Freedom, and he sees no successor who could command the same degree of allegiance. "This (his death) removes an obstacle for the Alliance rejoining Freedom, because the Alliance really only made sense under Haider," said Pulzer.
However, Pulzer suggested an alternative outcome to Deutsche Welle. "It doesn't follow that everybody who voted for the Alliance would transfer allegiance to Freedom," said Pulzer. "Not everybody voted for Alliance for political reasons, but rather on the grounds of personality." And the Alliance is not taking any immediate steps towards reunification; indeed, they named Stefan Petzner as its new leader on Sunday, October 12th. Petzner, 27, had been Haider's spokesman since 2004. Petzner considers it an awesome responsibilty. "They are big shoes to fill, but I will keep moving, not stumble," Petzner was quoted as saying. On Saturday he had reacted to the news of Haider's death, saying, "For us, this is like the end of the world."
Analysis: The report of excessive speed could quell concerns over the possibility that the crash wasn't an accident. The revelation that one of Haider's former aides was a Mossad informant generated understandable concern that it may have been a Mossad hit.
Although the Alliance may remain an independent party at this time, unity with the larger Freedom Party in the longer term is not out of the question. Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache could make a serious attempt at reconciliation by showing up to memorialize and eulogize Haider in some way. This would demonstrate that Strache is capable of placing country and party ahead of his rivalry with Haider, and lay the groundwork for the eventual unification of the two parties. This would best serve the interests of the Austrian people.