AUSTRIA'S FAR right Freedom Party saw its support collapse in the country's general election last weekend. The party caused shock across Europe when it won 27 percent of votes in the 1999 election and joined a coalition government with Austria's Conservative Party. Last weekend its support collapsed to 10 percent. The Freedom Party's key figure is Jörg Haider, who has praised Hitler's Nazis in the past.
Within weeks of the election two years ago over 300,000 people in Austria took to the streets against the Freedom Party, and a bedrock of opposition to the party has continued there ever since. That helped provoke a split between the party's Thatcherite business wing and those around Haider who wanted to follow France's National Front under Jean-Marie Le Pen.
The resulting collapse in support for the Freedom Party is welcome. But the 10 percent core that remains is dangerous. Some in the party will hope to rebuild support on a harder, more right wing basis.