Austrian History – The Coalitions Since 1983 Part II

At the end of 2001, Haider had the “local sign dispute” in Carinthia broke out again and had escalated. Because of the  referendum against the Czech Temelín nuclear power plant, which was launched by the FPÖ on January 14, 2002 – with the decisive input of Haider – which found around 915,000 signatures as a result of the populist campaign of the FPÖ (from autumn 2001) and therefore within five months of the National Council had to be dealt with, there was a serious government crisis for the first time at the end of January 2002. Because the ÖVP and also Federal Chancellor Schüssel opposed to their coalition partner FPÖ, refused to veto the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU. In the new elections on November 24, 2002, the FPÖ suffered another significant defeat for the first time. The clear winner of the election was the ÖVP under Schüssel, which is the strongest party in parliament for the first time since the 1966 election. After weeks of exploratory negotiations, Schüssel entered another coalition with the FPÖ on February 28, 2003. On April 25, 2004, H. Fischer (SPÖ) was  elected Federal President against B. Ferrero-Waldner (successor to Klestil; took office on July 8, 2004). In April 2005, after the foundation of the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ; Chairman: Haider) to split the FPÖ. The BZÖ, which was joined by large parts of the leadership of the FPÖ, continued the government coalition with the ÖVP.

In the parliamentary elections on October 1, 2006, the SPÖ was the strongest party, just ahead of the ÖVP, and the Greens with a wafer-thin majority in front of the FPÖ, while the BZÖ only just passed the four percent threshold. Schüssel and his government formally announced his resignation on October 3rd, but continued to serve until a new Federal Chancellor was elected. According to the election results, Federal President H. Fischer commissioned the SPÖ chairman and top candidate A. Gusenbauer to form a government on October 11th. This took up coalition negotiations with the ÖVP. The agreement was reached on 10.1.2007 and Gusenbauer was sworn in as Federal Chancellor on January 11th. key renounced the entry into the government of the grand coalition, for him on January 11, 2007 W. Molterer became vice-chancellor and finance minister. Molterer followed Schüssel on April 21, 2007 in the office of federal party chairman of the ÖVP. As part of the so-called democracy package, the federal government decided in March 2007 to lower the voting age. In addition, postal voting was introduced and the legislative period was extended from four to five years.

According to, the SPÖ’s surprising turn to an EU-skeptical stance sealed the end of the grand coalition in July 2008: Federal Chancellor Gusenbauer announced in June 2008 that future EU treaties would be subject to referendums, following the negative outcome of the EU referendum in Ireland wanted the party chairman of the ÖVP and Vice Chancellor Molterer to terminate the cooperation in the government on July 7th, 2008.

In the early election of the National Council on September 28, 2008, Molterer stood as the top candidate of the ÖVP, but won only 26.0% of the votes cast for his party. Compared to the last election, the ÖVP’s share of the vote decreased by 8.3%. Molterer therefore announced his resignation the day after the election. Despite considerable losses, the SPÖ with its top candidate W. Faymann remained the strongest party, despite considerable losses, with 29.3% of the votes, the FPÖ improved from 11 to 17.5%, the BZÖ under the leadership of J. Haider from 4.1 to 10, 7% of the vote. After Haider’s accidental death on October 12, 2008, the BZÖ was given a new tour. W. Faymann was commissioned to form a government.

On November 23, 2008, the SPÖ and ÖVP agreed on a new edition of the grand coalition with Faymann as Federal Chancellor; on December 2, 2008, the new government was sworn in (sworn in) by Federal President Fischer. The newly elected ÖVP chairman J. Pröll became vice-chancellor and finance minister on November 28, 2008.

With a drastic decline in GDP of 3.9%, the economy suffered the worst slump since the end of the Second World War in 2009 as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. In order to relieve the middle class in particular, the grand coalition decided in March 2009 to implement a tax reform that would take effect retrospectively at the beginning of the year. Bank Hypo Alpe Adria had to be saved from bankruptcy by the state. In October 2010, the governing parties agreed on a package of measures worth € 2.8 billion with the aim of pushing the financing deficit back below the 3% of GDP limit set in the Maastricht Treaty. With 79.3%, Federal President Fischer was elected Head of State for another six years on April 25, 2010. The voter turnout reached a historically low level of 53.5%.

Austrian History - The Coalitions Since 1983 2

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