Austrian History – The Coalitions Since 1983 Part III

After the chairman of the ÖVP, finance minister and vice-chancellor J. Pröll resigned in April 2011 for health reasons, Foreign Minister M. Spindelegger took over the office of vice-chancellor and chaired the ÖVP. The planned inclusion of a debt brake in the Austrian constitution failed at the beginning of December 2011 after none of the opposition parties had shown willingness to support the proposal. The country was shaken by several political affairs in 2011, in which two lobbyists and ministers from W. Schüssel’s cabinet, which ruled from 2000 to 2007, were allegedly involved. Schüssel reacted on 5 September 2011 by resigning from his seat in the National Council.

To counteract the strained budget situation, the government decided in February 2012 to launch a massive austerity package. After the founding of the liberal and Europe-critical party Team Stronach, three members of the National Council of the BZÖ as well as two non-party and one social democratic member of the new party, which was granted club status (parliamentary group status) in November 2012. In the same year, in the course of criminal proceedings for the sale of the Bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria to the Bayerische Landesbank, allegations of corruption were raised against the ruling ÖVP and the BZÖ. In 2011, a committee of inquiry was set up to clarify the allegations.

According to, elections to the National Council took place on September 29, 2013. The governing parties SPÖ and ÖVP suffered losses and achieved their worst result in a National Council election with 26.8% and 24.0% of the vote, respectively. The FPÖ then got 20.5% of the vote. The Greens followed with 12.4%. While the BZÖ failed to pass the four percent hurdle with 3.5%, the parties founded in 2012, Team Stronach for Austria (5.7%) and NEOS-Das Neue Österreich (5.0%), which shared a common election platform the Liberal Forum had formed, for the first time the entry into parliament. On 12./13. 12. In 2013, after difficult negotiations, the SPÖ and ÖVP agreed on the continuation of the grand coalition. The swearing-in of the new government (Faymann II cabinet) by Federal President Fischer took place on December 16, 2013. Caused by the death of the President of the National Council Barbara Prammer (* 1954, † 2014) and the resignation of Vice Chancellor M. Spindelegger after disputes over tax policy, there was a major cabinet reshuffle in August / September 2014. It was D. Bures (SPÖ) new President of the National Council, the Office of the Vice Chancellor took over R. Mitterlehner, who is also the successor Spindelegger was designated as ÖVP chairman. On February 25, 2015, the parliament passed an Islam law that regulated the status, rights and obligations of Muslims in Austria. A tax reform was passed on July 7, 2015, which should provide new growth impulses by relieving taxpayers by around € 5.2 billion. In this context, it was also decided to largely lift banking secrecy.

In the second half of 2015 – as in other EU countries – the refugee and migration crisis became the focus of domestic and foreign policy. On August 31, 2015, Hungary allowed thousands of refugees stranded at Budapest Ostbahnhof to travel on to Vienna, from where in most cases they traveled on to Germany. In view of the intolerable conditions in Hungary, Austria and Germany agreed on September 4, 2015 to accept refugees from there. Federal Chancellor W. Faymann and the German Federal Chancellor A. Merkel agreed in consultation with the Hungarian government a regulation according to which the predominantly Syrian refugees were allowed to enter without having been registered in Hungary beforehand, whereby the vast majority of refugees wanted to come to Germany. In the period that followed, the Faymann government’s policy on refugee issues became more restrictive. The federal, state and local authorities agreed on upper limits for refugees on January 20, 2016 (2016: 37,500, 2017: 35,000, 2018: 30,000, 2019: 25,000). At the invitation of Austria, a conference of several Balkan countries on the refugee crisis took place in Vienna on February 24, 2016. On April 27, 2016, the National Council passed a far-reaching tightening of the asylum legislation. For example, the granting of asylum was limited to three years. In addition, the possibility was created

The candidacy of Minister of Social Affairs R. Hundstorfer (SPÖ) for the office of Federal President and the related task of his ministerial office resulted in a reshuffle of the cabinet in January 2016. H. P. Doskozil (SPÖ) joined the government as Minister of Defense. On April 10, 2016, the ÖVP officially confirmed the change of Interior Minister J. Mikl-Leitner to the provincial government of Lower Austria. W. Sobotka was named as his successor (from April 21, 2016).

The first round of the presidential elections on April 24, 2016 was won by the FPÖ candidate N. Hofer with a clear lead over the other applicants. On Hofer 35.1% accounted for the votes. Second place went to A. Van der Bellen, supported by the Greens, with 21.3% of the vote.

Austrian History - The Coalitions Since 1983 3

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