A referendum on the unknown Turk? Anatomy of an Austrian debate - January 2008

A referendum on the unknown Turk? Anatomy of an Austrian debate

Is a referendum on Turkey's EU membership where current Austrian politics is taking us? The leaders of Austria's two largest political parties have often promised such a referendum. The right-wing opposition and much of the press have demanded it as well. Given current trends in public opinion and recent election campaigns by the Freedom Party, such a referendum is very likely. In this picture story, we examine the history of Austrian attitudes towards Turkey's EU candidacy.

Looking back over opinion polls of the past decade reveals a surprising finding: until 2002, there was very little difference between Austrian views towards Turkey and any other EU candidate. The current public mood does not have its roots in the distant past. Rather, it is a reflection of the recent behaviour of the Austrian political elite, and the direction in which they have chosen to take the public debate.

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