Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
When the late Joerg Haider, the hard-right populist governor of the southern Austrian state of Carinthia, sold most of his government's stake in Hypo Group Alpe Adria in 2007, he said, beaming: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Carinthia is rich."
BayernLB, which like many other German landesbanken appears to have never met a toxic asset it didn't like, had just paid 1.65 billion euros for a 50 percent stake in Hypo. Around half of that went into Haider's government's coffers.
True to his pork-barrel politics, Haider used the funds to, among other things, subsidise Carinthian teenagers' driving licence fees, scrap kindergarten fees, and pay out cash to Carinthian families to "offset inflation" in 2008, conveniently timed shortly before an election.
This worked to cement Haider's image as the generous leader looking after the man on the street. But since his death in a car crash last year, it shows that the basis of this policy was not sustainable. Hypo is now in urgent need of another year-end emergency capital injection of more than 1 billion euros, after it went cap in hand to the Austrian government and BayernLB for 1.6 billion euros last year already.
Breaking into the summer holiday lull, Austrian politics has gotten into a lather over a far-right populist’s call for a referendum on whether a mainly German-speaking region of northern Italy should rejoin Austria.
No matter how far-fetched, his proposal raised a hue and cry by challenging the taboo of old unreconstructed nationalism in a country restlessly determined to live down its Nazi past.
from Global Investing:
The Austrian government debt agency’s two-year old foray into subprime investments has turned into a political hot potato and sparked an increasingly heated debate between the Social Democrats and conservatives, caught in an uneasy but coalition government without viable alternative.
Austria’s audit court last week revealed that the agency, which in its staid day job issues government bonds and makes sure state coffers are full when they need to be, started to moonlight on money markets in 2002 to earn a little extra money on the side.
Senior figures from across Austria’s political spectrum have condemned the head of the far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, over his party’s European election campaign directed against Israel and Turkey.
In an advertisement in the newspaper Kronen Zeitung, Freedom opposes the accession of Turkey and Israel to the European Union. Although Turkey is in EU accession talks, Israel is not.
Could an Austrian oil and gas group with more than 41,000 employees, some 25.5 billion euros turnover and a presence in more than 20 countries actually be a secret front for Russian gas giants, extending their tentacles of power into Europe?
Some 25,000 people attended his funeral, countless books have been written about him, a bridge was named in his honour and now the spectre of Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider is dominating a regional election in Austria.
It looked like a perfect picture story, with all the right elements — the Nile, a fountain, 2,000 large inflatable bananas heaped in the shape of a pyramid, all set in a framework of Austrian conceptual art theory. The idea was that when the fountain began to shoot water into the air the bundles of bananas piled up from the base would explode and the bananas would disperse, floating gently down the Nile.
”The numerous, individual elements of the floating bananas are not only supposed to change the river’s colour but also, while drifting down the river are expected to develop distinctive dynamics, individually and through mutual interplay,” read the blurb from the Austrian Cultural Forum/Cairo (acf/c), which dreamt up and organised the event.
He may have died in a car crash last month whilst drunk, but Austrian rightist Joerg Haider is not gone.
Haider, who was enmeshed in nearly every part of Austrian political life, is now being hailed for his efforts to help two Austrian hostages being held in the Sahara months before his death.
Just when you thought his story couldn’t get more dramatic — he died on Oct. 11 in a high-speed car crash while drunk — we now learn that Haider, who was married with two daughters, was not only a populist who polarised the public with remarks about Nazism and immigrants, but might have been gay too.