Top candidate of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPOE) for the local elections in Vienna, Heinz-Christian Strache, celebrates in Vienna, Austria, on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. The far-right has surged in local elections in the Austrian capital, securing the biggest gains in votes and mandates as projections showed Sunday. (Photo credit: Ronald Zak / AP)
By Veronika Oleksyn
October 10, 2010
VIENNA — The far-right resurged in local elections Sunday in Vienna, the Austrian capital, securing the biggest gains in votes and mandates following a campaign laced with anti-Islamic rhetoric.
With only absentee ballots left to be counted, the anti-immigration Freedom Party won 27 percent and 28 seats in the regional parliament — up from 13. That’s a significant boost from the 14.8 percent they garnered during 2005 elections, and near their record high of 27.9 percent, achieved in 1996, when the late Joerg Haider was at the party’s helm.
“With a hand on my heart, I am deeply grateful for the confidence the Viennese have given me and I know what that responsibility means,” Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache said.
The Social Democrats took the lead with 44.2 percent of the vote — down from 49.1 percent in 2005. But with just 49 seats to call their own, down from 55, they lost their absolute majority and will now have to look for a coalition partner.
That comes as a significant blow to longtime mayor Michael Haeupl, who had hoped his party would not have to share power.
“The voter is always right in a democracy and as a democrat I accept this result and now we have to keep working,” said a clearly crushed Haeupl, who has given no indication he would resign over the outcome. He said the Freedom Party had done a better job mobilizing its supporters.
The center-right People’s Party, meanwhile, also suffered big losses, dropping from 18.8 percent in 2005 to 13.2 percent or 13 seats. It had previously held 18. The Greens placed fourth with 12.2 percent, or 10 seats, down from 14.6 five years ago. It lost four mandates.
Over the past few months, the Freedom Party tried to shore up support with campaign posters that mentioned “Vienna blood” — originally a waltz by Johann Strauss — which critics claimed had clear racist undertones in this political context. …
In the end, the Freedom Party connected best with predominantly male and less educated voters aged 20 to 29 or above 60, according to the Vienna-based Institute for Social Research and Analysis.
The People’s Party, although in a governing coalition with the Social Democrats on the national level, attempted to portray itself as the best alternative to those keen on breaking the Social Democrats’ absolute hold on power. Late Sunday, the party’s top candidate, Christine Marek, said her camp stood ready to join forces with Haeupl, who has repeatedly ruled out entering into a coalition with the Freedom Party. …
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The growing fear among some citizens of losing their rights and freedoms has created a political backlash toward the U.S. government and manifested itself in violent rhetoric and anti-government groups who want to “take their country back.” Chris Matthews takes a hard look at the recent surge of anger on the political right in “Rise of the New Right: A Hardball Documentary with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC.
Extremism Rises in America (June 16, 2010)
Why ‘The Rise of the New Right’ Matters (June 15, 2010) – Chris Matthews discusses “Rise of the New Right.” (01:46)
“Rise of the New Right” — Part 1 (July 7, 2010)
“Rise of the New Right” — Part 2 (July 8, 2010)
“Rise of the New Right” — Part 3 (July 9, 2010)
“Rise of the New Right” — Part 4 (July 10, 2010)
“Rise of the New Right” — Part 5 (July 11, 2010)
“Rise of the New Right” — Part 6 (July 12, 2010)
Following is my own chronicle of the rise of rightwing extremism in America following the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States in November 2008.
» Bachmann: Queen of the Fringe (Aug. 25, 2010)
Michele Bachmann at a rally in Washington against Barack Obama’s healthcare reform. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
» Tea Party Turns on Bachmann (July 29, 2010)
» Bachmann Threatens Witch Hunts (July 24, 2010)
» The Real Trouble with Bachmann (July 21, 2010)
» Oklahoma City Bombing: 15 Years (April 19, 2010)
Timeline: Key Dates in U.S. Militia Movements
Highlights from a timeline of right-wing militia actions compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes. The center says militias have resurfaced in the last few years after being below the radar for nearly a decade.
» Homeland Security Wary About Reporting on Rightwing Extremism (April 17, 2010)
“By mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead.” (David Frum, prominent conservative and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, in an article about the health-care vote titled “Waterloo.”)
» New York Times Tea Party Poll (April 16, 2010)
Walter Maciel, center, of Tewskbury, Mass., at the Tea Party rally Wednesday, April 14, 2010 on Boston Common. (Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times)
» Tea Party Fomenting Rebellion? (April 5, 2010)
Who comprises the Tea Party? (MSNBC “The Daily Rundown,” April 5, 2010) – Republican Pollster David Winston takes an extensive look at the voters who identify themselves with the Tea Party. (03:31)
» Sovereign Citizen Ultimatum to Governors (April 3, 2010)
Governors threatened (Associated Press, April 2, 2010) – The FBI is warning police across the country that an anti-government group’s effort to remove governors from office could provoke violence. The group, “Guardians of the Free Republics,” has sent menacing letters to some 30 governors. (01:08)
» Christian Militia Terror Plot (March 29, 2010)
Analyst: Militias are ideologically diverse (MSNBC, March 29, 2010) – Chip Berlet, a senior analyst with Political Research Associates who has written extensively about rightwing populism, militias, and the patriot movement, discusses with Rachel Maddow. (06:52)
» Bachmann and Violent Extremism (March 25, 2010)
Battle lines drawn over health care law (NBC Nightly News, March 24, 2010) – Anger over health care reform, erupted into over-the-top rhetoric and threats were made against members of Congress who voted the bill into law. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports. (03:16)
» MN-06 Endorses Conspiracy Nut (March 22, 2010)
» Pentagon Plot Political Paranoia (March 5, 2010)
Anger at America turns deadly (MSNBC “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” March 5, 2010) – Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center offers his take on the gun attack outside the Pentagon, populist anger, and anti-government violence. (05:53)
» Extremism Explodes in America (March 3, 2010)
Number of hate groups reach record level (MSNBC “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” March 2, 2010) – According to a new report, militias and other extremist groups increased 244 percent in 2009. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center and radio host Mark Williams of the Tea Party Express discuss. (08:33)
The number of extremist groups in the United States exploded in 2009 as militias and other groups steeped in wild, antigovernment conspiracy theories exploited populist anger across the country and infiltrated the mainstream, according to a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
» Bachmann Conspiracy Nation (Feb. 20, 2010)
Town Hall Face (Photos: Landov, AP, Getty Images / Newsweek)
» Suspicious Plane Crash in Texas (Feb. 19, 2010)
Joe Stack’s final act (NBC Nightly News, Feb. 18, 2010) – As investigators and journalists raced to piece together a picture of the suspected pilot who crashed into a Texas building early Thursday, a story of growing frustration and rage emerged. NBC’s Pete Williams reports. (02:01)
» Condemning Beck and Bachmann (Nov. 19, 2009)
A year of growing animosity (Anti-Defamation League, Nov. 2009) – Since the election of Barack Obama as president, a current of anti-government hostility has swept across the United States, creating a climate of fervor and activism with manifestations ranging from incivility in public forums to acts of intimidation and violence.
» Bachmann Rebuked for Nazi Image (Nov. 12, 2009)
Sign displayed at U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “House Call on Congress” anti-health care reform rally in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2009. The sign reads, “National Socialist Health Care: Dachau, Germany — 1945.” (Photo credit: Lee Fang / ThinkProgress)
» Anger in America (Oct. 31, 2009)
» Bachmann Heads Teabaggers (Sept. 13, 2009)
Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at a Tea Party at Lake George in St. Cloud, Minn., after a town hall meeting, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. (Photo credit: Jason Wachter / St. Cloud Times)
Invitation to Tea Party headlined by Michele Bachmann
» Bachmann: “Slit Our Wrists” (Sept. 2, 2009)
Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks to a luncheon crowd at the Denver Athletic Club, Aug. 31, 2009 (Photo credit: Jason Kosena / The Colorado Statesman)
In a speech filled with urgent and violent rhetoric, Bachmann … drew a clear line on health care reform.
“You’re either for us or against us on this issue,” she said. …
At times, Bachmann’s legislative briefing sounded more like the plot of a slasher movie.
“Right now, we are looking at reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom,” she said. “And we may never be able to restore it if we don’t man up and take this one on.”
While Bachmann didn’t ask this audience to “rise up against President Barack Obama’s tyrannical rule,” they stood anyway and applauded when she announced she was No. 1 on House Speaker Nancy Pelosis list of “top targets.” …
» Economy and Obama Volatile Mix (April 16, 2009)
Hate groups including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan have grown since Barack Obama was elected president. (Image: NBC News)
An April 2009 Homeland Security intelligence estimate warns that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy and the election of the country’s first black president to recruit new members and incite anti-government violence.
» Bachmann Call for Armed Revolt? (March 24, 2009)
“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if were not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”
— U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), March 21, 2009
» Obama, Economy Fuel Hate Groups (Feb. 28, 2009)
A cross and swastika are burned at an event called Hated and Proud in Nebraska in July 2008. (Photo credit: Southern Poverty Law Center / CNN)
» Obama Racist Backlash (Nov. 16, 2008)
University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston posted a message against racism on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008 after someone defaced a previous poster of President-elect Barack Obama and his family with a death threat and racial slur in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Photo credit: Jay Reeves / AP)
Racial incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama, including schoolchildren chanting “assassinate Obama,” racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars, and Black figures hung from nooses, are shattering the post-election illusion of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America. There have been “hundreds” of incidents since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.
By Russell King
March 22, 2010
Dear Conservative Americans,
The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You’ve lost me and you’ve lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I’d like to give you some advice and an invitation. … Read the entire letter
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — October 10, 2009
Men claiming to be Taliban fighters pose for a news photographer on Aug. 19, 2009 at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Reuters)
One year ago today, I reported that Afghanistan’s defense minister, calling for more international troops, said thousands of foreign fighters were pouring into Afghanistan to bolster the Taliban insurgency.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — October 10, 2008
Two years ago today, on the 31st day after losing my 2008 primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in line with my focus on national security, I reported that a pending National Intelligence Estimate would conclude that Afghanistan was in a downward spiral and that U.S. intelligence agencies doubted that the Kabul government had the ability to stem the rise of the Taliban, citing widespread corruption inside President Hamid Karzai’s government, an increase in attacks by militants operating out of Pakistan, and a general breakdown of central government authority in Afghanistan.
Pakistani tribesmen take part in an operation against Islamic militants.
A classified National Intelligence Estimate due for release after the November 2008 election reportedly concludes that the situation in Afghanistan is chaotic and in a downward spiral. The consensus view of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies is that President Hamid Karzai’s government lacks the ability to stem the rise of the Taliban or to exert central control over the country. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)
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