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Yearbook 1999

Austria. According to Countryaah official website, Austria ended in a political deadlock after October's election to the National Council (Parliament) when the right-wing populist FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, Austria's Freedom Party) became the country's second largest after the Social Democrats (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs, SPÖ). The success was primarily due to party leader Jörg Haider, who in the spring was elected head of government in the federal state of Carinthia in southern Austria. He made his election campaign a charm offensive where he mixed a lot of general promises with anti-immigrant rhetoric and appealed as a chameleon to the voters both left and right. SPÖ made its worst choice after the Second World War and had a decline of 4.7 percentage points compared to the 1995 election. 34% of the votes were satisfied. That meant a six-mandate reduction to 65 of the National Council's 183 seats. It was almost a dead race between the conservative ÖVP (Österreichische Volkspartei, Austrian People's Party) and FPÖ, which won second place with only 440 votes more. ÖVP went back a bit and lost a mandate, while FPÖ won eleven. The environmental party Die Grünen (The Greens) made a good choice and received 14 seats - an increase of five.

1999 Austria

Until the election, Austria had been governed by what was called the great coalition between social democrats and conservatives. Austria's economy is one of Europe's strongest, unemployment is low and so is inflation. But the Austrians seemed bored by all the cow trading and all the compromises that the great coalition brought and wanted renewal in politics. And that's exactly what Haider promised.

OVP leader Wolfgang Schüssel had already declared before the election that his party would leave the government if it did not come in second place. After a party board meeting, he explained that ÖVP was preparing to go into opposition, but he later left the door open for further government negotiations. After two months of unsuccessful deliberations between politicians, President Thomas Klestil in December commissioned Social Democrats leader Viktor Klima to form government, but he had not yet succeeded at the end of the year when Austria was ruled by an expedition minister for over three months.

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