Habsburg family to fight Austrian power ban
Published 30/03/2010 | 05:00
THE great nephew of the last Austrian emperor is fighting for the right to stand in presidential elections, challenging a constitution that bans members of the Habsburg dynasty from ruling Austria again.
Dr Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen is barred from running for the presidency by his country' s republican constitution, drawn up when the last Habsburg Emperor, Charles I, was forced to abdicate in 1918.
The 68 year-old forester is angry that he and his descendants are discriminated against while candidates with a Nazi past, such as Kurt Waldheim, Austria' s president between 1986 and 1992, are not.
Dr Habsburg-Lothringen has little in common with his imperial ancestors who once ruled much of Europe.
A councillor in his hometown of Wolfsberg, he decided to run after a family gathering when he realised that none of those in attendance could ever hold the country' s highest post.
The Social Democrats, whose candidate Heinz Fischer is the Austrian President, have opposed his calls for reform, claiming that constitutional change might encourage imperial descendants to claim back property that was confiscated by the state in 1918.
The House of Habsburg was once one of the most important royal houses of Europe.
It was notorious for frequent inbreeding. Genetic defects, such as the infamous Habsburg jaw, led to extermination of the Spanish branch of the dynasty.
(©The Daily Telegraph, London)