Joerg Haider, the extreme right wing Austrian politician who once said the Nazis had "an orderly employment policy" and referred to the concentration camps as "the punishment camps of National Socialism," died in a car crash last night. He was 58. "Haider was pronounced dead in a hospital shortly after his Volkswagen Phaeton veered off the road outside Klagenfurt in southern Austria and overturned several times after he successfully passed another car, police said. Authorities said an initial investigation showed no signs of foul play. At the time of his death, Haider was governor of the province of Carinthia and leader of the Alliance for the Future of Austria—a party he formed after breaking away from the far right Freedom Party in 2005." Haider always denied having a soft spot for the Third Reich and its Neo-Nazi spawn, but when he got into national government with 27 percent of the vote on an anti-immigration platform in 1999, the rest of Europe rewarded Austria with months of EU sanctions over Haider's statements—seen by less Alpine nations as anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler. Strangely, Israel's relations with Austria suffered after Haider's election, and the Israeli ambassador was pulled from Vienna. Though Haider and his gang left the Freedom Party for the gentler Alliance for the Future of Australia in 2005, Haider met with the Freedom Party's leader last month when they realized their combined votes in the last national election were nearly equal to that of the winning Social Democrats. Said Freedom Party boss Heinz-Christian Strache, "Joerg Haider achieved great things ... he was a great figure." [AP]
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