Austrian MEP under pressure for racist comments

VIENNA - The leading candidate for Austria's far-right Freedom Party in upcoming European elections was under pressure to resign Tuesday for racist comments and comparing the European Union to the Nazis.

According to Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, Andreas Moelzer told an event that the EU was in danger of becoming a "conglomerate of niggers, where everything is chaos".

"It is really the case that all of them, from the Portuguese to the Estonians, from the Swedes to the Sicilians ... are laughing at us, the Germans and the Austrians," the paper quoted the MEP as saying.

"We are the only ones who show up reasonably on time for meetings. We are the only ones who are already working at nine o'clock and not just from 11," the paper's weekly magazine quoted him as saying at the February event.

On Monday, Moelzer apologised for his "semantic blunder", saying in a statement that he had intended to use a different word and that the discussion was "satirical-ironical" when he made the comments.

According to the paper, Moelzer had also called the EU a dictatorship, and that in comparison the "Third Reich (was) probably shapeless and liberal" because Hitler's regime had fewer "rules and regulations".

In another statement on Tuesday, Moelzer said that he did not wish to "trivialise" the "criminal" Third Reich and that he was merely denouncing "the EU's absurd obsession with regulations in dramatic fashion".

Politicians from other parties have rounded on Moelzer, calling for him to quit, with Vienna's Jewish Committee saying "people like this should not represent Austria in Europe".

On Tuesday, speaking to Austrian public radio station OE1, he did not rule out resigning.

The eurosceptic and anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe) is the third largest in the Austrian parliament, and polls indicate that it will come third in the May 25 European election with around 20 per cent of the vote.