Austria poll blow for racism row MEP Andreas Moelzer
- 8 April 2014
- From the section Europe
An Austrian far-right politician embroiled in a racism row says he will no longer be a candidate for his party in next month's European elections.
Andreas Moelzer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) made the move after Austria's President Heinz Fischer urged him to pull out of the election altogether.
Mr Moelzer, a serving MEP, may still run as an independent candidate.
He has been widely criticised for calling the 28-nation European Union a "conglomerate of Negroes".
Earlier on Tuesday Mr Moelzer announced that he would not head the list for the Eurosceptic FPOe in the election. But his spokesman later explained that "he is fully withdrawing from the FPOe list".
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann added his voice to those calling for Mr Moelzer to quit the election.
"Such a person should not represent Austria in the European Parliament," he said.
Mr Moelzer had also said the EU made Hitler's Third Reich look "informal and liberal". He has apologised for his comments.
Opinion polls put national support for the anti-immigrant FPOe at around 20%.
Explaining his decision, Mr Moelzer said "it is the evident loss of confidence in my party which is prompting me to do this".
He insisted that he was not responding to "the continuous pressure from the country's entire politically correct media or the hypocritical indignation of the republic's political establishment", the Austrian broadcaster ORF reported.
He also accused the "far left" of organising a "witch-hunt" against him.
'Out of place'
Earlier, President Fischer called on him to step down, in an interview with an Austrian newspaper.
He said Mr Moelzer's views were "out of place in the European Parliament".
The Freedom Party's leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, has also distanced himself from Mr Moelzer. The two politicians had a meeting on Monday evening.
"Everybody in the FPOe community has to pay particular attention to the vocabulary they use," Mr Strache said.
The party's general secretary Herbert Kickl said the FPOe clearly distanced itself from Nazism and racism and saw itself as an "Austrian patriotic political force".
In recent months the FPOe has outscored Austria's governing Social Democrats and Conservatives in opinion polls, the BBC's Bethany Bell reports from Vienna.
It is now considered the main opposition party in Austria.
Last week the FPOe joined with France's National Front, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and the Sweden Democrats to form a new coalition, the Young European Alliance for Hope (YEAH).