VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Joerg Haider, who catapulted his rightist anti-immigration party into a powerful force with sharp attacks on rivals and provocative praise of the Nazi era, died Saturday in a car accident. He was 58.

His death on a little traveled stretch of a southern highway left Austria without one of its best-known politicians — a figure whose strident rhetoric that sometimes sounded contemptuous of Jews once led to months of international isolation for the Alpine republic.

Alone at the wheel, Haider was overtaking another motorist when his car veered off the road, crashing into a concrete pillar and overturning. He died of multiple injuries. Authorities said they do not suspect foul play, but are investigating.

Although he was commonly labeled a rightist, Haider was more a populist who defied categorization, often swiftly embracing positions contrary to his early reputation as an admirer of Nazi times and a hater of foreigners.

Often at odds with the telegenic Haider, politicians from across the ideological spectrum expressed shock at his death.

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