Haider said the resignation was simply fueled by a desire to take away the impression that the party's cabinet members were his puppets. But others in the E.U. have expressed fears that the move will allow Haider to exercise more control over the party's national officials from behind the scenes. Observers have also speculated that Haider will distance himself from unpopular government plans, such as tax increases, and thus position himself for a run at the chancellorship in the next general election.
Haider resigned Monday following weekend E.U. meetings in Brussels in which representatives of the other 14 E.U. member nations shunned Austrian heads of state. Tuesday morning Justice Minister Michael Krueger, a fellow Freedom party member who's taken heat for praising Nazi policies, followed suit and also resigned. But E.U. leaders realize that the Freedom party remains an unsettling force in Austria, enjoying 33 percent support nationwide a popularity fueled by Austrian resentment over the E.U.'s shunning of Vienna. So while Haider may fade into the background in the short run he said he will concentrate full-time on being governor of Carinthia E.U. leaders will do well to note that his right-wing isolationist policies are still in high demand.