VIENNA (Reuters) – The vice-mayor of the Austrian town where Adolf Hitler was born resigned from his post and the far-right Freedom Party on Tuesday after provoking strong criticism with a poem in which he compared migrants with rats.
Christian Schilcher left the Freedom Party (FPO) to avoid damaging the junior partner in a national coalition with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives, FPO chief Heinz-Christian Strache told a news conference in Vienna.
Schilcher’s poem in a party newspaper was written under his pseudonym “the city rat” and told from the perspective of a rodent.
“Just as we live down here, so must other rats, who as guests or migrants… share with us the way of life! Or (they must) hurry away quickly,” it says.
One verse adds that if two cultures were mixed it was as if they were destroyed.
“Such misconduct is incompatible with the principles of the Freedom Party,” said Strache, who is vice-chancellor in Austria’s coalition government.
Freedom Party members have repeatedly stumbled over Nazi scandals and made headlines in local media for alleged links with the far-right Identitarian movement.
Schilcher’s resignation was “the only logical consequence” after publishing that “horrible and racist poem”, Kurz told news agency APA.
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, editing by Ed Osmond)