Austrian History – The Coalitions Since 1983 Part IV

Irmgard Griss (* 1946), the former President of the Supreme Court, came in third place with 18.9% of the vote. The candidates of the governing parties, A. Khol (ÖVP) and R. Hundstorfer (SPÖ), remained far behind with disappointing results (11.1 and 11.3% of the vote). This meant that none of the candidates had the necessary absolute majority of the votes. The electoral authority therefore set a runoff election for the two applicants with the most votes (N. Hofer and A. Van der Bellen). On May 9, 2016, Federal Chancellor W. Faymann declared, who no longer felt enough support in his party, surprisingly resigned as head of government and SPÖ chairman. Federal President H. Fischer then entrusted Vice Chancellor R. Mitterlehner with the interim management of government affairs. On May 17, 2016, C. Kern (SPÖ) was sworn in as the new Federal Chancellor. He reorganized the cabinet in several positions.

According to, in the runoff election for the presidency on May 22nd, 2016 A. Van der Bellen narrowly prevailed against the FPÖ candidate N. Hofer with 50.35% of the vote. Hofer came up with a share of the vote of 49.65%. The FPÖ challenged the election result because of irregularities in the counting. On July 1, 2016, the Constitutional Court upheld the lawsuit and ordered the Austria-wide repetition of the runoff election. The powers of the head of state were therefore constitutionally transferred to the Presidency of the National Council after the end of H. Fischer’s term of office on July 8, 2016. Contrary to most forecasts, A. Van der Bellen decided the repetition of the runoff election on December 4th, 2016 with a clear lead. He won around 53.8% of the vote, while N. Hofer won around 46.2%. of the votes were lost. A. Van der Bellen was sworn in as Federal President on January 26th, 2017. Against the background of increasing tensions between party strategy and government work, the ÖVP chairman, vice chancellor and economics minister R. Mitterlehner announced his resignation from all offices on May 10, 2017. Foreign Minister S. Kurz was appointed as his successor in the party chairmanship on May 14, 2017. The office of Vice Chancellor was taken over by Justice Minister W. Brandstetter on May 17th, 2017, while H. Mahrer became the new Minister for Economic Affairs. The day before, the group leaders of the parties represented in parliament agreed on new elections on October 15, 2017. Constantly flaring up disputes within the SPÖ / ÖVP coalition made it no longer sensible to continue the government work until the next regular election date in autumn 2018. On May 16, 2017, Parliament passed a legislative package for the integration of refugees and asylum seekers (including an integration year for integration into the labor market; burqa ban in public).

In the elections to the National Council on October 15, 2017, the ÖVP, led by S. Kurz, was by far the strongest parliamentary force. It won 31.5% of the vote and 62 seats. The SPÖ received 26.9% of the vote and 52 seats. The FPÖ recorded considerable gains, winning 26.0% of the vote and 51 seats. The NEOS party got 5.3% and 10 seats. The Greens narrowly failed with 3.8% of the vote because of the four percent clause. The Peter Pilz List, founded by the former Green MP Peter Pilz (* 1954), on the other hand, made it into the National Council straight away. She won 4.4% of the vote and 8 seats. ÖVP and FPÖ agreed to form a center-right coalition with S. Kurz as Federal Chancellor and the FPÖ Chairman H.-C. Strache as Vice Chancellor. The new cabinet was sworn in on December 18, 2017.

After the publication of an incriminating scandal video showing Strache with the former Vienna Vice Mayor and the executive club chairman of the FPÖ (since December 17, 2017) Johann Gudenus (* 1976) and an alleged Russian oligarch in 2017 in Ibiza, Strache gave the Known to resign from all of his political offices, triggering a government crisis. The decoy had offered Strache campaign support against public contracts. On the same day, Chancellor Kurz announced new elections for autumn 2019. The ministers of the FPÖ left the government after Kurz dismissed the FPÖ interior minister Wolfgang Kickl (* 1968) had proposed. As FPÖ general secretary, he should have cleared up the Ibiza affair around ex-Vice Chancellor Strache. Until a government was formed following the new elections, Austria was directed by an expert government made up of top officials. Chancellor was Brigitte Bierlein (* 1949). In the National Council election on September 29, 2019, the ÖVP was able to achieve significant gains with 37.5% of the vote (71 seats out of 183 seats). The SPÖ won 40 seats with 21.2% of the vote. The FPÖ was the third strongest force with 16.2% of the vote (31 seats). With a vote increase of around 10%, the Greens were able to return to parliament (13.9%; 26 seats). After weeks of negotiations, the ÖVP and the Greens agreed on a government program in which climate protection and the fight against illegal migration are key issues. Federal President Van der Bellen swore in the turquoise-green government team on 7.1.2020 with the new-old Federal Chancellor S. Kurz at the top. The 32nd cabinet, with 53% women, is more female than ever; with many ministers under 50 and 40, it is also a young one.

Austrian History - The Coalitions Since 1983 4

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