Austria tax crisis over: Haider
VIENNA, Austria -- Far-right politician Joerg Haider says he has reached a deal in a tax dispute that has threatened the stability of Austria's coalition government.
The 52-year-old had insisted the government, of which the Freedom Party is a junior coalition member, should hold to its pledge of cutting taxes in 2003. (Full Story)
But the government of Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel argues the tax cuts should be delayed, saying the money is needed to help pay for the estimated six billion euros worth of damage caused in last month's floods that swept across the continent.
The chancellor was backed by key figures in the Freedom Party, Susanne Riess-Passer and Karl-Heinz Grasser, who are currently serving as ministers in the coalition government.
Haider told weekly magazine Format on Thursday an agreement has now been reached with Schuessel, leader of the conservative People's Party,
The governor of Carinthia province also said he has withdrawn his support for a party conference on the issue and will be urging his party supporters to cancel the October 13 meeting.
"The chancellor and I agreed to a new set of priorities," Haider was quoted by Reuters as saying.
But Haider has not reportedly spoken to Riess-Passer. She told the Austrian broadcaster ORF that she knew nothing of Haider's secret agreement with Schuessel.
Haider, who withdrew as leader of the Freedom Party in 2000 after 14 years in charge, still holds sway in the party's ranks and the row had threatened to undermine the current leadership.
Haider, who in the past has praised the Third Reich's employment policy, had insisted on an extraordinary party conference to force the Freedom Party's ministers to vote in favour of the cuts.
Riess-Passer, who is party chief and vice chancellor in the governing coalition, threatened to resign on Wednesday, if the tax reform conference took place.
Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, the party's most popular personality, said he would follow, arguing repeatedly that the tax cuts would not be possible next year.
Haider quits in tax rowRELATED SITE:
August 31, 2002
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