Flopped Haider exhibit shuts after ‘negative propaganda’

Organisers of an exhibition on late right-wing politician Jörg Haider have claimed “campaigning media” were to blame for the exhibit being a massive flop.Fewer than 11,000 people attended the exhibit in the Bergbaumuseum (Mining Museum) in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, since it opened in October 2009. Organisers and local politicians hoped it would draw 70,000.Curator Gerhard Finding announced today (Fri) tomorrow will be the final day the disputed exhibition will be on display before he starts preparing an upcoming exhibit on “Dowsing in the 21st Century”.Finding stressed the museum managed to earn the 40,000 Euros it has spent on the exhibit – but not with ticket sales but revenues made at the featured shop where books and DVDs about Haider can be purchased.He told the Kurier newspaper: “Many people decided not to visit the exhibit after it was linked with the Nazi mindset in negative propaganda by media.”Finding also admitted it was a “big mistake” not to put on display the wreck of the VW Phaeton Haider lost his life in when speeding home after a boozy night out in October 2008.He explained: “We met a wish of (Haider’s widow) Claudia Haider. Looking back, this was a big mistake. It would have certainly been the most interesting object to put in the show.”Haider, who is regarded as one of the most influential politicians in post-war Austria, was often accused of using “code insider terms” in his statements in speeches and election campaign leaflets to attract people with a far-right political opinion and neo-Nazis.He became head of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) after a putsch in 1986. Haider resigned as federal leader shortly after the People’s Party (ÖVP) decided to cooperate with the FPÖ in a government coalition on a federal level in 2000.He later officially withdrew from that but kept on causing a series of severe coalition-internal thrifts with controversial statements.Haider founded the Alliance of Future of Austria (BZÖ) in 2005. The party was expected to become the FP֒s major right-wing rival, but would garner just two to three per cent were Austrians asked to the polls this Sunday.It barely managed to take the four per cent hurdle into parliament in 2006 before sensationally overtaking the Greens for third place two years later when it bagged 10.7 per cent.Haider acted as the party’s front runner in this ballot in what was regarded a remarkable comeback on the federal political landscape. He, however, made clear his plan was to stay governor of Carinthia – unless there would be a chance of becoming vice chancellor and interior minister. But the ÖVP teamed up with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) once more.The BZÖ suffered dramatic defeats in a series of provincial elections as well as in last year’s ballot for the European Parliament (EP) and in labour chamber (AK) votes. Its current federal leader Josef Bucher is tipped to join the ÖVP if the BZÖ fails to find success in the 10 October Vienna city parliament election. The debt-stricken party even did worse than the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ) – which has become a fringe concern – when it claimed just 1.2 per cent in the 2005 vote.Bucher has failed to re-position the party as a faction focusing on economic topics as polls show most Austrians consider it a party which opposes immigration and foreigners.Research has also shown that right-wing voters consider the FPÖ as entitled successors of Haider’s political heritage. Its leader Heinz-Christian Strache is currently engaged in a headline-hitting campaign ahead of the crucial Vienna vote featuring a series of posters with far-right and arguably xenophobic statements.The BZÖ was dealt a huge blow earlier this year when hundreds of members in Carinthia – its only stronghold in Austria – walked out to join the Carinthian Freedom Party (FPK). The new faction, headed by Uwe Scheuch and Governor Gerhard Dörfler, agreed with the FPÖ on cooperation at federal level.Some political analysts have claimed the BZÖ would collapse in the event of failure in next month’s Vienna city parliament ballot.