GRAZ, Austria -- Austria's far right, riding high on its recent national election success, is conducting one of the most hate-filled election campaigns in recent memory in a bid for EU Parliament seats. Jews, Muslims and non-European foreigners have all been maligned, while far-right supporters have expressed their loyalty to the cause by using the outlawed Nazi salute.
The Freedom Party (FP) and the splinter Alliance for the Future (AF) party unexpectedly won almost a third of votes in last September's national election. Two weeks later, the outpouring of sympathy that followed the death of Jorg Haider -- the leader of FP until he formed AF in 2005 -- in a drunk-driving accident gave the far right an added boost. While Haider's persona has fast taken on the quality of populist mythology, attention has now focused on the far less polished FP leader Heinz-Christian Strache.
Strache's most recent provocation came as he looked around the temple in Vienna where two rival Sikh sects came into conflict two weeks ago. Strache said that the incident -- which left 57-year-old preacher Sant Rama Anand dead and 16 others injured, and triggered a bout of rioting in the Punjab -- serves as a reminder of where "the path of open doors takes you." Ewald Stadler, the main candidate for AF, called for a travel ban on "problem gurus."