Haider died driving at twice speed limit

Austria's leading far-right politician, Jörg Haider, had been at a late-night party and was driving at more than double the speed limit when his limousine left the road and somersaulted, killing him almost instantly.

Mr Haider, 58, whose fatal car accident early on Saturday morning has left Austria in a state of shock, was travelling near Klagenfurt in the southern province of Carinthia at 88mph (142kph) along a stretch of road which has a 42mph speed limit.

State prosecutors investigating the crash said his car, a three-month-old Volkswagen Phaeton V6, careered off the road after overtaking another vehicle and flipped several times, causing the populist leader massive injuries to his head and chest even though he was wearing a seatbelt.

An ambulance took Mr Haider to Klagenfurt hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Ruling out foul play as a cause of death, Gottfried Kranz, the chief prosecutor, said: "Further speculation about other causes for the accident are invalid."

Mr Haider, who had been on his way to his mother's 90th birthday party, had been at a party at a night club less than a hour before the crash. State prosecutors declined to say whether they had found alcohol or traces of drugs in his blood.

Mr Haider's death came just weeks after the beginnings of his political rebirth. In last month's Austrian general election, the far right secured almost 30 per cent of the vote. Mr Haider's Alliance for Austria's Future (BZO) more than doubled its share of the vote, prompting speculation that he would return to the national political scene – possibly with a role in an eventual ruling coalition – after years spent in virtual exile as a provincial governor. "After Lazarus, my resurrection must be the most dramatic on record," he said afterwards.

However, Austrian commentators predicted yesterday that Mr Haider's sudden death would almost certainly encourage the country's two main parties, the socialists and conservatives, to join forces again and form another coalition, just months after their first partnership collapsed.

Mr Haider leapt on to the international stage when his first party – the Freedom Party – became a coalition member in the 1999 government. The party's overtly anti-immigrant stance and Mr Haider's praise for Adolf Hitler's employment policies prompted the European Union to impose sanctions against Austria, fearing that democracy was threatened. A service was held for Mr Haider at Klagenfurt's cathedral last night. Over the weekend Austria's politicians made only passing references to his politics. Heinz Fischer, the President, described his death as a "human tragedy". Mr Haider's successor as BZO's leader, Stefan Petzner, burst into tears on camera, declaring: "For us, this is the end of the world".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor