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Austria

Yearbook 2007

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 SP and the conservative VP formed a so-called large coalition. SP had won the election over the previous ruling party VP 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.

2007 Austria

According to CountryAAH, the coalition settlement meant that SP 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, SP 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 VP 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 VP 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 1992.

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 FP, 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 SP's Alfred Gusenbauer.

During the VP / FP 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 VP with its coalition partner, the Social Democratic SP. The background was a change in the SP'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 SP and VP 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 SP'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, Jrg 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 (SP and VP) 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 FP, the government quickly turned and tightened in the period afterwards.

In the 2016 federal presidential election, Alexander Van der Bellen (former leader of the Die Grnen party) won by barely any margin over the right-wing FP 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 margin.

At the November 2017 parliamentary election, support for the party Die Grnen collapsed. VP and FP stepped forward and formed a bourgeois government under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. However, Sebastian Kurz's bourgeois government fell in May 2019 after FP leader Heinz-Christian Strache had to withdraw from the government as a result of the so-called Ibiza affair. ended with success for VP, Die Grne and the Liberals (NEOS), and decline for FP and the Social Democrats.

After a hundred days of negotiations, FP and Die Grnen entered a coalition government, for the first time in Austria's history. Sebastian Kurz once again led the government.

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