Hitler’s 1938 referendum on whether to annex Austria is less biased than the ballot drawn up to vote on whether to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the UK leader of Europe's biggest parliamentary party has said.
Dirk Hazell, who heads the British branch of the European People's Party (EPP), claimed the “rigged” question posed on whether to leave or remain was similar to the Nazi dictator’s own polls because of how words and phrases are laid out on the ballot.
In an incendiary blog, he alleged the ‘Leave’ option on the Brexit voting card was more central than the word ‘Remain’, giving it a psychological advantage.
Hazell posted doctored images of both the EU referendum question and Hitler’s infamous ballot paper, showing how the German Chancellor blatantly manipulated voters to vote ‘yes’ to the forced annexation of Austria, which precipitated its unification with Germany and instated Hitler as leader with 99.7% support.
“That 1938 ballot paper goes down in infamy as how not to do it,” Hazell told EurActiv.com.
“But I think in one way the referendum paper is worse than the Hitler ballot paper in that it is subliminal.”
But the EPP, which has been the largest party in the European Parliament since 1999 and in the European Council since 2002, has hastily sought to distance itself from its UK leader’s comments.
Spokesman Siegfried Muresan called it an “unacceptable comparison” and promised not to interfere in the Eu referendum, due to be held on June 23.
“The EPP believes this is an unacceptable comparison given the UK is a fully-fledged democracy,” Muresan said.
“The EPP will not interfere in the UK referendum. It is completely up to the people of the UK to make their choice and we trust that the referendum […] will fully comply with the highest democratic standards.”