Austria has been rocked after the male successor to right-wing leader Jorg Haider virtually admitted to having a gay affair with him.
Haider, 58, who was pictured cuddling a man in a gay bar where he had his final drinks before the death crash which claimed his life, was long suspected of leading a double existence during his years in power.
Now Stefan Petzner, 27, who recently replaced Haider as leader of the right wing party, Alliance for the Future of Austria, effectively outed himself as the far right leader’s gay lover while being interviewed on the country’s O3 radio channel breakfast show.
Good friends: Joerg Haider, right, and his spokesman Stefan Petzner toast after a news conference in Vienna
'I had to go to him. I had to go to him,' Petzner said in his highly emotional interview as he recalled how he rushed to the hospital where the dead body of 52-year-old Haider was lying after his fatal crash in early October.
Admitting that he felt a 'magnetic attraction' for Haider, whom he met five years ago while working as a cosmetics correspondent for a newspaper, Petzner insisted: 'We had a relationship that went far beyond friendship. Jorg and I were connected by something truly special. He was the man of my life.'
He insisted that Haider’s widow, Claudia did not object to his relationship: 'She loved him as a woman. He loved her as a man. I loved him in a completely different and personal way. She understood that.'
But Petzner’s sister, Chrisitiane, 30, appeared to cast doubt on her brother’s story.
In a newspaper interview she said: 'Sometimes Claudia was jealous because Stefan would spend more time with her husband than she did.'
Clearly embarrassed by the revelations, officials at the Alliance for the Future of Austria, yesterday attempted to limit the political damage to the party by cancelling forthcoming interviews with Petzner.
However their attempts to prevent his radio interview being rebroadcast were turned down.
There was speculation that as a result of his controversial interview, Petzner might soon find himself replaced as party leader.
Haider crashed his Volkswagen limousine while drunk and driving at more than double the speed limit while on his way his mother’s birthday party in the early hours of the morning earlier this month.
Last Saturday he was given the equivalent of a state funeral in Klagenfurt, the capital of the Austrian province of Carinthia where he was governor for more than a decade. More than 25,000 people attended.
Hours before he was buried it was revealed he drank a whole bottle of vodka in a seedy gay bar with an unidentified male 'friend'.
His party more than doubled its share of the vote in Austria’s general election at the end of September i n which the far right won 30 per cent.
The result prompted speculation that Haider would once again figure in Austrian national politics.
Allegations that Haider was either gay or bi-sexual were first published in Austria nearly a decade ago.
However the far right leader, who fathered two children with his wife Claudia, refused to discuss the allegations, fearing that they would alienate thousands of his ultra conservative followers.
Until yesterday conservative Austria had preferred not to dwell on the subject and allowed Haider to portray himself at least, outwardly as a traditional family man., although his party was nicknamed the 'Haider’s Boy Party' .