Austria's Far-Right Call for In/Out Referedum on Eurozone

January 24, 2013, Thursday // 12:42
Bulgaria: Austria's Far-Right Call for In/Out Referedum on Eurozone
Leader of Freedom Party of Austria (FPOE) Heinz-Christian Strache gestures during a party convention in Graz, Styria 18 June 2011. Photo by EPA/GNES

Austrian people should be given the opportunity to have their say on Europe and the eurozone in an in/out referendum, the leader of the country's far-right party has said.

Saying he was inspired by British Prime Minister David Cameron's promise of a referendum on whether to leave the European Union, FP? head Heinz-Christian Strache told the daily ?sterreich this was just the kind of direct democracy Austria needed as well.

"If the EU develops into a centralised super-state then the final consequence for Austria would be an EU exit. I would rather have an alliance with Switzerland," Strache said, as cited by EurActiv.

"It would make sense to have a referendum on a euro exit," he said.

Strache, whose opposition party has consistently scored more than 20% in opinion polls in the run-up to parliamentary elections due by September, has long been a eurosceptic.

He has opposed bailouts of struggling countries in the currency bloc, and proposed splitting the eurozone into two camps: economically stronger northern European countries and weaker ones on the periphery.

Opinion polls however show most Austrians support the single currency and believe it is good for their export-dependent economy.

Strache's statement comes just a day after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU and then give people the "simple choice" between staying in under those new terms, or leaving the EU.

If his Conservative Party wins again in an election due in 2015, Cameron said, the new arrangement would be put to voters in an in-or-out referendum by the end of 2017.

The news was welcomed by eurosceptics who have long campaigned for a vote.

Germany and France however were quick to warn Cameron that Britain cannot pick and choose EU membership terms.

The response from most European capitals, including Austria and Denmark, was that we don't want Britain to leave, but when you join a club, you have to abide by the rules.

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