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FACTBOX: Late Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider
(Reuters) - The Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider was killed in a car accident on Saturday.
Following are some facts about Haider, a charismatic populist who helped to thrust anti-immigrant politics into the European mainstream:
-- Haider was born on January 26, 1950 in Upper Austria. His father was a shoemaker and ex-member of the Nazi party who served in the German army in World War Two. His mother, now 90, was a member of Hitler's League of German Maidens.
-- Haider earned a law doctorate in Vienna in 1973.
-- Haider was active in politics as a teenager and in 1977 became a full-time politician for the Freedom Party (FPOe).
-- After becoming party chief in 1986, the youthful Haider transformed the FPOe from a fringe group into Europe's leading far-right bloc with anti-immigrant, tough-on-crime rhetoric.
-- When the FPOe formed a government with the conservative People's Party in 2000, the European Union imposed sanctions until Austria convinced it that its democracy was not in danger.
-- After power struggles within the FPOe, Haider formed the breakaway Alliance for the Future of Austria in 2005. The party won 10.7 percent in last month's national election, making a combined far-right tally, with the FPOe, of 28.2 percent.
-- He was forced to resign as governor of Carinthia province in 1991 after saying Adolf Hitler's Third Reich had an enviable record in job creation, and praising veterans of Hitler's murderous Waffen SS corps as "decent men of character."
-- Haider also caused outrage by referring to Nazi concentration camps in an assembly debate as "penal camps."
-- Haider denied Nazi leanings, and rejected accusations that he was legitimizing xenophobia. He argued that the state lacked the tools or will to deter bogus asylum seekers or tackle foreigners working illegally or committing crimes.
-- Haider relished controversy, exploiting disillusionment with the two entrenched governing centrist parties.
-- He called then-French president Jacques Chirac a "vest pocket Napoleon," and shook Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's hand on what he called a "humanitarian trip" to Baghdad in 2002. -- In front of television cameras, Haider was urbane and conciliatory. On the campaign stump, his language had a rawer edge, drawing charges that he was a political chameleon prone to demagoguery and racism.
(Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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