World News and Trends: Austria and Switzerland move right

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Austria and Switzerland move right

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Most alarming is the emergence last year of Jörg Haider's Freedom Party as the second-largest political force in the Austrian legislature. He is known for his alleged pro-Nazi pronouncements and qualified praise of Hitler. More recently Mr. Haider has been in London trying to silence alarm bells in the West in reaction to his controversial statements about the Third Reich. The response in Israel was immediate; Jerusalem threatened to sever diplomatic relations with Austria.

Three weeks after Austrian voters had boosted the ultraright, neighboring Switzerland followed suit. Christopher Blocher's extreme Swiss People's Party made huge gains in the federal elections, which places him in a strong position to play a significant role in a coalition government. He is known for his highly controversial views about the Holocaust. The Economist called his party "Switzerland's most potent political force" and termed this rightward swing "a vigorous shift in the Swiss mood." (Sources: The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail [all London]; The Economist.)