VIENNA: Hoping to allay fears of a totalitarian, Hitler-like regime, Austria’s new government has launched an all-out publicity offensive.
VIENNA: Hoping to allay fears of a totalitarian, Hitler-like
regime, Austria’s new government has launched an all-out publicity
The formation of a government consisting of a conservative coalition
from the OVP (the Austrian People’s Party) and the FPO (the Austrian
Freedom Party) has raised intense reactions within, as well as outside,
the Alpine Republic. Among the fears the government is hoping to put to
rest are the curtailing of civil liberties as well as racial unrest.
A ’Declaration of Democracy’ by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and FPO
chief Jorg Haider (which appeared in the International Herald Tribune)
marked the start of the PR offensive. Despite its best efforts, however,
the government has not been entirely able to fend off anti-Haider
demonstrations and threats of EU sanctions, according to Berlin-based
Austrian press attache Georg Schnetzer.
’It’s important to show EU partners that their fears will not be
realized,’ he said.
This task will primarily fall upon Schuessel’s shoulders, added Wolfgang
Rosam, owner of Publico (Austria’s largest PR agency). By touring the
country, Schuessel attempted to generate a sense of trust in the new
While many have pegged Haider as an unappetizing politician, the
government is going out of its way to shunt comparisons to Hitler.
According to Elfriede Krempl, General Secretary of the Austrian
Hoteliers Association, the steady number of tourist bookings seems to
suggest that the country is not being perceived as a potential menace.
’Austria itself poses no external threat,’ he said.
Kreml added that his organization was one of the groups that appealed to
Schuessel and his government to start a PR offensive, simply to show the
world that Austria is not dangerous. But despite the massive press
coverage - most of it negative - Fritz Bauer, the Berlin-based director
of Austrian publicity, has observed only a few negative effects. ’We
can’t prescribe what people should think,’ he said.