Austria. Shortly after New Year, Austria was given a new
government. The deadlock after the parliamentary elections
in October was resolved when the Social Democratic SPÖ and
the conservative ÖVP formed a so-called large coalition. SPÖ
had won the election over the previous ruling party ÖVP by a
small margin. Together, the two parties had 134 of the 183
seats in the National Council, Parliament's lower house.
They received seven ministerial posts each. New Chancellor
became Social Democrat Alfred Gusenbauer.
CountryAAH, the coalition settlement meant that SPÖ had to withdraw
its election promise to drop the fees for university
studies. Instead, students were given the opportunity to
perform 60 hours of community service per semester to avoid
paying. A tax cut that the Social Democrats had promised was
also taken care of in the future. In addition, SPÖ was
forced to abandon the promise to withdraw the order of 18
Eurofighter fighter aircraft.
In April, however, new information appeared which seemed
to confirm the rumors of corruption in connection with the
2002 aircraft acquisition. The deal, worth € 2 billion, was
the subject of a parliamentary inquiry. According to the
suspicions, bribes would have been paid to a company owned
by the Air Force Chief's wife. Air Force commander Erich
Wolf was suspended from his post and Defense Minister
Norbert Darabos warned that the purchase could be torn down.
At the end of the year, a preliminary investigation into the
aircraft business was initiated against a businessman who
was married to a former ÖVP minister.
Former President Kurt Waldheim, who was also UN
Secretary-General, passed away in June in his home in
Vienna. Waldheim was the UN chief in 1972–81. When he was
running for presidential election for the ÖVP in 1986, it
was discovered that he had perpetrated information about his
past as an officer in a German federation during the Second
World War. Accusations of conspiring with Nazis made him
internationally isolated during his time as president. An
international commission stated that he had not committed
any war crimes but considered that he was fully aware of the
abuses committed in the Balkans where he was stationed.
Waldheim did not run for re-election when his term expired
In June, Parliament adopted a proposal that reduced the
voting age in national elections to 16 years, the lowest in
any EU country. At the same time, the term of office was
extended from four to five years.
Settle with the past
Social Democrat Heinz Fischer won the presidential
election in 2004. Thomas Klestil, who through his two
six-year terms got good goals for the job of repairing the
damage following the revelations of predecessor Kurt
Waldheim's Nazi past, died of heart attack shortly before
Fischer's inauguration. The federal election in 2006 brought
the Social Democrats back into the position as the largest
party, with around 36 percent, clamoring for the
Conservatives. The FPÖ, which the year before was again
split into a clearer anti-immigration hostile and a more
liberalist party, was now out of government discussions. The
new coalition is led by SPÖ's Alfred Gusenbauer.
During the ÖVP / FPÖ period, Austrian policy is
considered to have turned to the right in asylum and
immigration matters. At the same time, the pension system
and other welfare policies were tightened; reforms that
triggered the first general strike since the 1950s and the
largest mass demonstrations ever.
The settlement of the past was a theme of Austrian
publicity, even at the beginning of the new century. The
prohibition against denying the existence of gas chambers
and the Holocaust was applied in several lengthy court
proceedings. At the 60th anniversary of the Second Republic
in 2006, President Heinz Fischer ruled "as an established
truth" that Austria was not a victim, but a practitioner
during World War II.
Abduction and abuse cases
Two serious abduction and assault cases that rolled up
shook both Austria and the outside world and led to
multi-level debate; possible features of the social
structure were one of the topics. In 2006, 18-year-old
Natascha Kampusch managed to escape from her kidnapper,
Wolfgang Priklopil, who had held her captive for over eight
years. He committed suicide immediately after the escape.
Josef Fritzl was sentenced to life in prison for the
crime that was rolled up in 2008. For 24 years, he kept his
daughter Elizabeth locked in a basement bunker under the
family's house, where he had seven children with her; three
of them had lived their entire lives in captivity.
Right radical progress
In the summer of 2008, the Christian Democratic Party
broke the ÖVP with its coalition partner, the Social
Democratic SPÖ. The background was a change in the SPÖ's EU
policy, in which the party would now submit all treaty
issues to the referendum and no longer be decided by the
National Assembly; internal tensions in the party had been
intensified following the vote in which Irish voters set
foot for the Lisbon Treaty.
New elections were held in September, just two years
after the last election. Here, both SPÖ and ÖVP achieved
their weakest results since 1945, respectively 30 and 26 per
cent. In December, however, the two traditionally dominant
parties in Austrian politics formed a new coalition
government, now under the leadership of SPÖ's Werner Faymann.
The two largest radical immigration-critical parties had the
greatest progress in the election, ending up a total of 29
per cent of the vote - 43 per cent in the electorate under
40 years. For the first time, young people between the ages
of 16 and 18 could also vote in this election. The
right-wing radical figure for many years, Jörg Haider, lost
his life in a car accident shortly after the election, and
25,000 people attended the funeral in Klagenfurt in the
state of Carinthia.
Immigration wave and Ibiza affair
In 2015, the Austrian Kernel government (SPÖ and ÖVP)
supported German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open door policy
and welcomed around 90,000 refugees, most from Syria.
However, due to strong political opposition, especially from
the FPÖ, the government quickly turned and tightened in the
In the 2016 federal presidential election, Alexander Van
der Bellen (former leader of the Die Grünen party) won by
barely any margin over the right-wing FPÖ politician Norbert
Hofer, during an election campaign in which immigration
policy was one of the main issues. However, the election was
declared invalid by the Austrian Constitutional Court for
irregularities in the counting of advance votes. Van der
Bellen won the re-election in December 2016 by a larger
At the November 2017 parliamentary election, support for
the party Die Grünen collapsed. ÖVP and FPÖ stepped forward
and formed a bourgeois government under Chancellor Sebastian
Kurz. However, Sebastian Kurz's bourgeois government fell in
May 2019 after FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache had to
withdraw from the government as a result of the so-called
Ibiza affair. ended with success for ÖVP, Die Grüne and the
Liberals (NEOS), and decline for FPÖ and the Social
After a hundred days of negotiations, FPÖ and Die
Grünen entered a coalition government, for the first
time in Austria's history. Sebastian Kurz once again led the