Austria's controversial politician firebrand Jörg Haider has been elected president of a new political party. It's a gamble that could put the country's ruling coalition at risk.
New party, same Haider
Haider was elected unanimously bar one abstention by the 564 delegates present for the launch of the Alliance for Austria's Future (BZÖ), born following a split in his Freedom Party (FPÖ), the junior partner in Austria's government coalition.
Once the poster boy of the Freedom Party, Haider recently dismissed it as "an important historical relic," saying it was time to focus on domestic issues such as jobs, families and cultural identity.
Analysts say that by distancing themselves from the extreme-right members of the former FPÖ, Haider and his new alliance might win back voters lost because of the party's divisions and harsh policies.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and his wife, Krista Schüssel
"Imagine what would happen if the government imploded just before or, worse, during Austria's presidency of the European Union" due to start on January 1, Alfred Gusenbauer, leader of the Social Democrats (SPÖ), told a party conference in Vienna.
Schüssel no longer has an overall majority in the country's parliament since Haider split from the far-right FPÖ which he founded. The FPÖ has been in coalition with Schüssel's conservative People's Party (ÖVP) since 2000.
During his departure from the FPÖ, Haider took at least nine of the FPÖ's members of parliament with him. Haider has indicated he wants the coalition to continue in office. Schüssel needs the backing of 13 of the 18 FPÖ members in the lower house of parliament to maintain his majority.
Reasons for worry
But, in a newspaper interview published Saturday the FPÖ's new leader Heinz-Christian Strache said the seven members of parliament who were still loyal to him would from now on vote "with their hearts and conscience" and suggested that "the government has serious reasons to be worried."
Schüssel said last week that he has received sufficient "guarantees" from the FPÖ's 18 members of parliament and its three ministers and two junior ministers to feel that he can work with them until Austria's next national elections due to be held in the autumn of 2006.
Jörg Haider announces in April that he and his supporters have broken with the Freedom Party and presents his new party "Alliance for Austria's Future" (BZÖ).
The opposition Greens and Socialists have been calling for early elections, and a poll conducted by the OGM institute found that 57 percent of the population would like to vote before 2006.
"If the 18 deputies of the BZÖ or the FPÖ choose to act in rational way, the coalition could endure until 2006. But all depends on whether they behave rationally or not," political analyst Anton Pelinka said.
Hailed as one of Germany's most versatile and prominent actors, Gottfried John has died aged 72. John became internationally known for his role as the villain in the 1995 James Bond film 'GoldenEye.'
Berlin has unveiled a memorial for victims of what the Nazis called "euthanasia," a program exterminating people deemed "unworthy of life." DW discussed the memorial with disabled politician Andreas Jürgens.
This week, children across the United Kingdom return to school. Some experts are concerned that UK schools are becoming the breeding ground for Islamic extremism and want a clear focus on "British values."
It was a cultural catastrophe: 10 years ago, Weimar's Anna Amalia Library caught fire. Director Michael Knoche tells DW about rescuing books with his bare hands and why a valuable Copernicus work only recently turned up.