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Far Right Scandals Continue in Austria

Last October, Z Word published my detailed report on the scandal of a member of the extreme right wing Olympia student fraternity, Dr. Martin Graf of the FPÖ, being elected as deputy president of the Austrian parliament…

by Karl Pfeifer, Z Word Blog, 22/01/09

Although Graf is a member of an extreme right-wing student fraternity that has contacts with neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers, 109 out of 183 legislators supported him to become one of the two deputy presidents of parliament.

One detail of the election became known only after my report was published. Although was elected in a secret vote, 34 ballots had Graf’s name in the lower left-hand corner – and the FPÖ has 34 seats in parliament after its landslide gains in the recent general election.

Second Parliamentary President Michael Spindelegger of the ÖVP , who became foreign minister a few weeks later, dismissed the Green Party’s accusation that this was a transgression against parliamentary rules, explaining that it was irrelevant where a candidate’s name appeared on a ballot. What mattered was that the ballots did not have any additional remarks on them, Spindelegger said.

Martin Graf has employed two young fraternity brothers, one of whom has been organizing a a neonazi youth camp “Jugendbund Sturmadler”. They were were also good customers of the German nazi mail order company “Aufruhr,” where they spent hundreds of Euros.

Yesterday, when Martin Graf was presiding for the first time over a session of the Austrian parliament, Alexander van der Bellen, the former leader of the Green party showed a shirt purchased by Graf’s collaborator. The t-shirt is very popular with German and Austrian Neonazis: 88 is the equivalent of Heil Hitler, H being the 8th letter of the Latin alphabet.

Austrian Jewish Community (IKG) President Ariel Muzicant said in a recent interview: “I accompanied the federal president on his recent state visit to Israel and tried to communicate how many positive accomplishments we have achieved in Austria. But Israelis replied by asking me if I was crazy, since 28 per cent of Austrians had voted for Nazi parties. Then I came back and was confronted by the unpleasant (FPÖ Third President of Parliament Martin) Graf affair, which concerned the purchase of extreme-right literature by two of his staffers.”

Foreign minister Spindelegger said he didn’t believe the affair would have a lasting impact on Austria’s reputation abroad.

In a recent poll, 40 per cent opposed Martin Graf as third president of Austrian Parliament and 32 per cent favored him remaining.

It looks as if Austrian parties – with the exception of the Greens – do not really care if people sit in the Parliament who, despite all their declarations otherwise, do come near to National Socialist ideology.

The Austrian political establishment thus gives a signal to the young extreme right and neo-nazis: you can go ahead in Austria and listen to nazi rock and continue to poison young people, for us the only thing that is important is our “reputation abroad.”