VIENNA (AFP) - The leading candidate for Austria's far-right Freedom Party in European elections next month resigned on Tuesday after coming under fire for racist comments and comparing the EU to the Nazis.
Mr Andreas Moelzer unleashed a storm of controversy after Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily reported him telling an event in February that the EU was in danger of becoming a "conglomerate of niggers, where everything is chaos".
He announced his resignation on Tuesday, but remained defiant, saying that he had done "nothing dishonourable other than to formulate a non-conformist opinion in a politically incorrect manner."
In a statement to the Austria Press Agency on Tuesday, he said his decision to resign was not due to the "politically correct" media or the "feigned outrage of the political establishment".
"It is the obvious lack of trust in my party that has made me take this step," Mr Moelzer added.
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.
According to the Sueddeutsche, Mr 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".
He also said that Germans and Austrians were the "only ones who show up reasonably on time for meetings" and start work at 9:00 am.
Later he said in a statement 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".
Austrian President Heinz Fischer had called on Mr Moelzer to quit, as had the two parties in the EU member state's centrist coalition.