program would be placed directly before the country’s parliament.rnThe proposal, in particular, called for a complete cessationrnof non-asylum immigration, expulsion of those foreignersrnconvicted of crimes, the reinforcement of border patrolsrnagainst illegal immigration, the compulsory carrying of identityrndocuments by foreigners, a 30-percent ceiling on the numberrnof foreign children in any classroom within Austrian staternschools, and tests of German language proficiency for pupils.rnThe last two points strike directly at what is perhaps the mostrncritical issue agitating the Austrian populace. Imagine the followingrnscenario, feasible under current multicultural educationalrnpolicies: German-speaking parents receive a letter fromrntheir child’s school requesting permission to have instructionrnoccur in Turkish, that being the native tongue of the majorityrnof pupils. In fact, such an incident occurred in one of Vienna’srnneighborhood schools, where in at least three districts Germanspeakingrnchildren are in the minoritv.rnRoused from their lethargy, both the chancellor and presidentrnof Austria (one socialist, the other of the traditional conservativerncamp) belatedly offered to negotiate some of the issuesrnraised by the proposed referendum. In the weeksrnfollowing, a complex of maneuvers took place that reflected arnstark reality of contemporary Austrian politics: a third party settingrnthe pace for national debate and policy.rnAlthough opposition to the Haider 12-point mandate wasrnpredictable, what was less expected was the wholesale denunciationrnof him bv this country’s influential Roman Gatholicrnclergy. Bishops and archbishops queued up to denounce thernreferendum as “inhumane,” “dangerous,” “impractical,” andrnpossibly damaging to Austria’s social stability. Haider’s demandrnfor a constitutional declaration that Austria is not openrnto unlimited immigration was vilified bv his opponents as incompatiblernwith the nation’s international obligations as a signatoryrnto the Treaty of the European Economic Area, as well asrnwith future membership in the E.G.rnThe FPO petition was also subjected to critical analysis byrnAustria’s legal experts. A prominent professor writing in DerrnStandard (Vienna’s independent liberal daily newspaper) assertsrnthat “anyone [who] examines the proposals in detail mustrndoubt the sincerity behind his intentions.” It was furtherrnclaimed that the remaining components of the so-called manifestornare already part of existing Austrian law.rnYet what critics have labeled Haiders Kampf manifestedrnconcrete results as early as June 1992 when, under pressure fromrnthe Freedom Party, parliament passed a new law tightening regulationsrnon Eastern European refugees arriving for purely economicrnreasons. In response, Hungary agreed to receive immigrantsrnrejected at the border. Thus, in the first ten months ofrn1992 only 15,155 asylum-seekers registered in Austria, comparedrnto the 1991 figure of 27,000. Another 40,000, however,rnreceived temporary shelter, as well as an additional 4,500rnrefugees from the Balkans. Moreover, on Noember 17,1992,rnanother 175 Muslim war refugees from Bosnia were admittedrnafter the British government refused to accept them, despiternthe pleas of a British charity organization.rnAlthough reliable figures on illegal immigrants are impossiblernto come by, estimates of new refugees run as high asrn80,000—a proportion markedly higher than in Germany, consideringrnAustria’s total population of just 7.5 million. In mid-rn1992, the Austrian Gentral Bureau of Statistics released a reportrnthat estimated that 573,000 foreigners reside in the nation: 7.3rnpercent of the population.rnJust weeks after he dropped his political bombshell overrnimmigration, an Austrian newsmagazine reported that Haiderrnhad personally aided seven Bosnian refugees by providing themrnwith a farmhouse on his Carinthian estate (the unfriendlyrnpress announcement stressed that the cottage lacked electricityrnand hot water). The fact that the men were lumberjacksrnwho had not registered with local police, as is required by Austrianrnlaw, was used to suggest that the Freedom Party’s leaderrnwas being hypocritical. His wife was said to be “outraged” thatrna private act of charity should be thus misunderstood.rnAs the swirl of controversy centering on the FPO leader continued,rna newly published and highly critical biography ofrnHaider climbed to the best-seller list. Written by a journalistrnfor the tabloid Der Kurier, the book queried, “Gibt es Rezepterngegen Haider?” (Are there remedies against Haider?) The answerrncontinued to center on painting the Freedom Party leaderrnas a closet fascist or neo-Nazi. When Jewish graves in therncity of Eisenstadt were desecrated on the anniversary of Kristallnachtrnlast year, the slogan “Sieg Haider” was splashed across arntombstone; the opposition party leaders and press laid thernblame for the vandalism at the feet of the FPO leader. Whilerngenerally refusing to rise to such bait, in this case Haider denouncedrnthe incident, shifting blame onto the coalition governmentrnwith the warning that prejudice and racism would increasernunless the go ernment could produce an effective policyrnto deal with the influx of foreigners.rnHowever, the relentless stereotyping of the Freedom Partyrnand its head as constituting a vanguard of racism continued unabated.rn”The real purpose of Haider’s referendum demarche”rnalleged yet another media critic, “is to awaken popular expectationsrnof harsh, anti-foreigner measures and to strengthenrnthe resistance of that large part of the population that opposesrnAustrian entry into the E.G.” The result would be that thernFPO might reap dividends, being seen as the articulator of popularrnanti-E.G. feelings and the champion of those set to makernAustria a bastion against an expected increase in immigrationrnfrom war-torn and poverty-stricken southeastern Europe andrnthe former Soviet Union.rnOrganized as a response to the “Austria First” referendum, arncandlelight demonstration was held last January at the historicrnHeldenplatz where Adolph Hitler had receied the rhythmicrn”Sieg Heil” from 100,000 Viennese in March 1938. An estimatedrn200,000 congregated in what was described as a solemnrnvigil against “racism” and “anti-Ausliinder” politics. Haiderrnhimself dismissed the event as an invalid reflection of publicrnsentiments, telling the New York Times that “Austrians don’trnwant to feel like strangers in their own land.”rnWhile the decidedly pro-ruling coalition Radio Austria Internationalrndescribes Haider as “fanning the flames of xenophobiarnlatent in a citizenry concerned at the huge influx of foreigners,”rnone might also conclude that he is simply reflectingrna solid base of public opinion. In fact, this is precisely the case.rnAustrian national surveys since 1988 demonstrate that a steadyrnrise in popular opinion opposing immigration has coincidedrnwith a decided drop in support for E.G. membership. A Galluprnpoll conducted in October 1992 reported that 76 percent ofrnAustrians opposed admission of any new immigrants. Thus,rnHaider’s opponents had good reason to fear that he might obtainrnnot merely the 100,000 signatures needed to insure thernparliamentary debate on the issue but rather—as predicted byrnthe astute head of the Austrian Gallup polling organization—rnNOVEMBER 1993/27rnrnrn