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Western Press Review: Austrian Doubts About European Unity; Unrest In Turkey

Prague, 15 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Some Western press analyses of the results of Sunday's election in Austria for representatives to the European Parliament saw harbingers of a right-wing resurgence. Others calculated only that the vote constituted an Austrian volks-protest against European union. Commentators also examine the cast of Turkey's Islamic leadership.


NEW YORK TIMES: Austria's Freedom Party is touched with the stigma of neo-Nazism

In an analysis in today's edition, Alan Cowell writes: "At a time of growing fear among Europeans that the continent's moves toward economic and political union will erode their social well-being, dramatic electoral successes Sunday by Austria's anti-European far right placed governments on notice that austerity in the name of the continent's unity presents perilous risks at home.

"By far the most striking result was the advance registered by Austria's right-wing Freedom Party, led by Joerg Haider (whose party often is touched with) the stigma of neo-Nazism.In final results, the Freedom Party won almost 28 percent of the vote."

Cowell says: "In his campaign, Haider struck a sympathetic chord among Austrians with his tirades against immigration, his attacks on government sleaze and, most of all, his depiction of the European Union as an institution that will cost blue-collar jobs and bring high taxes."

LONDON TIMES: Herr Haider is seen as a prophet

Roger Boyes comments today: "Membership of the EU was the turning point for Herr Haider. Rash promises that food prices would drop, that everyone would be better off to the tune of 100 pounds ($63) a week, that tourism would blossom, and jobs would be secure have not been fulfilled. So Herr Haider, who campaigned against EU, is seen as a prophet."

DIE WELT: The Austrian election shattered party political structures of old

Carl Gustaf Strohm comments in today's edition of the German newspaper: "Austria's first elections to the European Parliament, which under normal circumstances would hardly have merited international attention, have changed the political landscape and shattered party-political structures of old."

Strohm writes: "The results of elections to the European Parliament must, however, be rated differently from those of a general election. Since European parliamentary elections have no immediate consequences for national politics on matters such as domestic affairs, economic and welfare policy, voters regularly cast a protest vote, voicing their dissatisfaction with the party in power much more clearly than they might otherwise do.

"The Austrian election results testify to disappointment with the European Union and dissatisfaction with the Vienna grand coalition's austerity policy aimed at enabling the country to meet the Maastricht monetary union criteria."

LONDON TIMES: Haider is closer to his objective of breaking habits of consensual coalition politics

In an editorial today, the paper avers that "Haider's success should surprise no one." The Times says: "Herr Haider now stands closer than ever to his objective of breaking up his country's ingrained habits of consensual coalition politics."

The editorial goes on: "Herr Haider's abilities as a mould-breaker do not efface his less attractive side. He tells foreign interviewers that he rejects immigration policies designed on racial lines while proposing tough immigration controls and insulting Turks, Bosnians and gypsies."

LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH: Doubt and cynicism about the EU is settling in on voters

In today's paper, EU correspondent Toby Helm and Julian Nundy write in an analysis: "Election victories by anti-Maastricht parties at the weekend are being hailed by Euro-skeptics as proof of the mood of doubt and cynicism that is settling on the voters on the Continent."

The writers say that in addition to Austria, "In another sign of the growing appeal of anti-Maastricht electoral tickets, voters in a Marseilles suburb shook France's political establishment yesterday by eliminating all but the anti-Maastricht extreme-right National Front and Communist Party candidates in the first round of a parliamentary by-election."

They add: "In a further boost for the skeptics, a recent poll has suggested that a majority of Swedes is opposed to membership in the EU, and more than half would vote in favor of withdrawal if possible."

LE MONDE: The European Union is hated among the people

The French newspaper editorializes today, apropos of the Austrian vote: "Are European governments preparing for passage of a monetary union in 1999 aware that in the background the European monetary union is hated among the people?" The paper says, "In Austria -- not really surprising anyone -- Jeorg Haider's nationalist right managed (in the election) to channel the discontent."


DIE WELT: The Turkish army would be well advised to stay in its barracks

On a different topic, looking at politics in Turkey, an editorial in today's edition, signed by Evangelos Antonaros, says: Turkey's Islamist premier Necmettin Erbakan "is firmly in control of his party, but he still has his problems with the Turkish establishment. That was why the man who is hailed by his supporters as a champion of Islam has been at pains to sound a conciliatory note. He had his photo taken beneath a giant portrait of Ataturk, was fulsome in his praise of the Turkish army, stressed his commitment to the secular character of the Turkish state and would no longer hear anything of a theocracy along Iranian lines. This lip service is unlikely to pacify the supporters of a secular state. (Erbakan is known for deviousness.) Yet it would be foolish to try and oust him from power by means which were politically or legally dubious."

The paper says: "The Turkish military would be well advised to stay in barracks and advocate a resolution of (Turkey's) crisis by parliament. Any other solution would pose an enormous security risk to the country's domestic stability."

FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU: A no-confidence vote will probably bring new elections

Gerd Hohler in Athens comments in today's edition: "While most of the Turkish media comments described (Erbakan's) Libyan visit as a 'political fiasco' and a 'diplomatic catastrophe,' Erbakan declared at his return that he left Tripoli 'victorious as a Roman general.' " Hohler writes: "There is a growing ill humor in the ranks of the conservative Party of the True Way (DYP) about Erbakan's foreign political moves, but it is not probable that the dissidents will revolt publicly." The writer concludes: "The most probable consequence of a vote of no-confidence would be new elections -- with the possibility that Erbakan's Islamists would achieve clear gains."