National Council election in Austria 2006
The National Council election on October 1, 2006 was the 23rd in the history of the Republic of Austria . The party with the strongest votes was the SPÖ with Alfred Gusenbauer , which suffered a slight loss of votes compared to the last National Council election in 2002 and subsequently appointed the Federal Chancellor after the coalition negotiations . With heavy losses, the ÖVP took second place with its top candidate, the previous Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel . SPÖ and ÖVP agreed a grand coalition in coalition negotiations after the election .
The Greens with Alexander Van der Bellen , with a very narrow lead of 532 votes (~ 0.011%) over the FPÖ with Heinz-Christian Strache , became the third strongest force in an election for the first time in history and accordingly appointed the 3rd President of the National Council; In terms of mandates, the two parties were tied with 21 mandates each. The BZÖ with the top candidate Peter Westenthaler achieved 4.1% and thus overcame the four percent hurdle .
Official final result with voting cards :
|Political party||be right||Percent (1)||Seats|
|Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ)||1,663,986||35.34%||68 (2)|
|Austrian People's Party (ÖVP)||1,616,493||34.33%||66|
|The Greens - The Green Alternative (GREEN)||520.130||11.04%||21st|
|Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ)||519,598||11.03%||21st|
|List Westenthaler - BZÖ (BZÖ) (3)||193,539||4.11%||7th|
|List Dr. Martin - (MATIN)||131,688||2.79%||0|
|Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ)||47,578||1.01%||0|
|EU exit - Neutral Free Austria (NFÖ)||10,594||0.22%||0|
|Socialist Links Party , List Against Capitalism and Racism (SLP)||2,257||0.04%||0|
|Safe - Absolute - Independent, Franz Radinger (SAU)||1,514||0.03%||0|
|Initiative 2000 (IVE)||592||0.01%||0|
|List Strong (STRONG)||312||0.00%||0|
LIF on the basis of an electoral alliance . (3) In Carinthia: The Freedom in Carinthia - List Jörg Haider - BZÖ .
Comparison with the 2002 National Council election
|2006||Change 2002 → 2006||2002|
|valid votes||Eligible voters||valid
Invalid & invalid voters
|Green||520.130||11.05%||8.5%||55,150||+1.58||+ 16.7%||+0.7||+ 8.3%||464.980||9.47%||7.9%|
|FPÖ||519,598||11.04%||8.5%||28,270||+1.03||+ 10.3%||+0.2||+ 2.4%||491,328||10.01%||8.3%|
|KPÖ||47,578||1.01%||0.8%||20,010||+0.45||+ 80.4%||+0.3||+ 67.2%||27,568||0.56%||0.5%|
Results in the federal states
The results in the federal states are listed here.
Political run-up to the 2006 election
After the National Council election in 1999 , four parties were represented in the Austrian National Council ( SPÖ , FPÖ , ÖVP , The Greens ). For the first time in the Second Republic (after 1945) the FPÖ and ÖVP formed a coalition government under the leadership of Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel (ÖVP). After internal disputes in the FPÖ ( Knittelfelder FPÖ Assembly 2002 ), early elections were held in 2002 ( National Council election 2002 ), which secured the ÖVP a relative majority with 42% of the votes and a continuation of the coalition with the FPÖ, which had fallen to 10%. Since the split in the FPÖ in spring 2005, when all its members of the government and leading representatives like Jörg Haider founded the Alliance Future Austria (BZÖ) and the ÖVP continued the coalition with the new party in place of the FPÖ, up to the 2013 National Council election , five parties were involved Representatives in the National Council.
An early dissolution resolution of the National Council was necessary for October 1, which the five parliamentary parties adopted unanimously on July 14, 2006. Without early termination, the regular election would have taken place almost two months later, on November 26, 2006.
For the first time in the Second Republic, polls showed that up to six parties had a real chance of joining the National Council. In addition to the parties already represented in the National Council, this included the Hans-Peter Martin list (MATIN), which failed to pass the four percent hurdle with 2.8% . The Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) competed nationwide and was able to double its share of the vote, but still only achieved just over 1%. The Liberal Forum (LIF), which has not been represented in the National Council since the 1999 election, can now once again send a mandate, its party leader Alexander Zach , through an electoral alliance with the SPÖ .
Austrian People's Party
The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) ran with Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel as the top candidate. He was supported by a personal committee, which included Claus Raidl (general director of Böhler-Uddeholm , economic policy advisor Schüssels), Veit Sorger (president of the Federation of Industry ), Heidi Senger-Weiss (forwarding entrepreneur from Vorarlberg) and Helmut Pechlaner (director of the zoo Schönbrunn ) belonged. The personal committee was headed by Christian Gehrer, son of the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Culture Elisabeth Gehrer .
During the election campaign, the ÖVP used slogans such as “Safe. Austria. " , " Austria. We're doing well here. ” And “ Austria. Stay better. ” To convey a positive mood and attacked the SPÖ in particular, which was accused of lacking economic competence ( “ Gusenbauer-SPÖ cannot do business! ” ), Whereby the“ BAWAG affair ”was repeatedly brought into play.
She also tried to highlight her own successes. For example, 50% of the ministerial posts in the ÖVP-BZÖ federal government were held by women, Susanne Riess-Passer (FPÖ) was the first woman vice-chancellor from 2000 to 2002 and the government also appointed a president for the Supreme Court for the first time Took office on January 1, 2007. However, this was suggested to the Federal President by Justice Minister Karin Gastinger . In education, reference was made to the fact that the university graduates has risen sharply and the introduction of tuition fees had the effect of shortening the study period.
Social Democratic Party of Austria
During the election campaign, the SPÖ raised the issue of youth unemployment and the Schuessel government's pension reform ( "Schuessel's sad record: pensions are worth less and less!" ). Other campaign topics included:
- The purchase of the Eurofighters decided by the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition, which is to be canceled in the event of government participation.
- The government's current women's policy, in particular the abolition of an independent women's ministry in the years 2000–2002.
- In the area of education, the SPÖ called for far-reaching reforms and budget expansions. In the event of government participation, the tuition fees introduced by the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition in 2001 are to be abolished.
- Tax cut for employees, adjustment of pensions to the inflation index, as well as elimination of the prescription fee for low-income earners.
After having held first place for a long time, the SPÖ lost the majority in opinion polls from March 2006 in favor of the ÖVP. The main reason for this is likely to have been the affair surrounding the Bank for Labor and Economy (BAWAG), which plunged the main owner, the Austrian Trade Union Confederation , which is dominated by the Social Democratic Union , into turmoil and led to internal party disputes ("BAWAG affair").
Freedom Party of Austria
In the media, the popular initiative “ Austria stay free” initiated by the FPÖ at the beginning of 2006 was seen as the start of the election campaign. At the beginning of August, the FPÖ posted a "Duel for Austria" between Wolfgang Schüssel and Alfred Gusenbauer on the one hand and Strache on the other.
The following four points in the party's program were highlighted by the FPÖ:
- No accession of Turkey to the EU and rejection of the " EU constitution "
- No increase in Austria's EU contribution
- Stricter citizenship law
- "Immigration stop" and the fight against "asylum abuse"
The program thus focused on well-known topics, in particular foreigners (“Welfare state instead of immigration”, “Daham instead of Islam”, “Safe pensions instead of millions of asylum”) and the EU (“Home instead of bowl and Brussels”), which was already part of the election was successfully propagated in Vienna in 2005.
The Greens opened the pre-election campaign in May 2006 with the presentation of two black books . The Black Book deals critically with the government policy of the ÖVP. A few days later the Black Book Red was published, which is dedicated to the opposition work of the SPÖ. The Greens blamed the ÖVP and SPÖ for “gross violations” in human rights issues. In particular, the SPÖ's approval of the 2005 amendment to the asylum and aliens law, which resulted in much tightening, was criticized.
Central topics were:
- the so-called " energy transition ", d. H. the exit from fossil fuels and the promotion of alternative energy sources
- Improving the situation of women in the labor market
- the needs-based basic security , which is intended to serve as an instrument to combat poverty
- an educational reform with a reduction in the number of schoolchildren, more flexibility and money for tertiary education, and investments in development and science
- a reduction in youth unemployment related to the educational reform
- a points system in the area of immigration to give priority to highly qualified immigrants
A coalition with the ÖVP with the participation of Elisabeth Gehrer was decidedly excluded by the Greens. The abolition of tuition fees and the cancellation of the Eurofighter purchase contract were also mentioned as coalition conditions.
List Westenthaler - Alliance Future Austria
On June 23, 2006, Westenthaler was also elected to succeed Jörg Haider as party leader at an extraordinary party congress of the BZÖ . The official name of the list was Die Freiheitlichen - List Westenthaler - BZÖ . After a preliminary injunction obtained by the FPÖ, the BZÖ had to remove the name “die Freiheitlichen” on its posters, but it appeared on the ballot papers with this addition. The BZÖ Carinthia declared itself as an independent organization not affected by the injunction and acted as Die Freiheitlichen in Kärnten - List Jörg Haider - BZÖ .
In a first draft for an election program, which the BZÖ presented under the title “10 points against a shift to the left in Austria” , many demands pointed out that the positions of the BZÖ very much overlap with those of the “old” FPÖ and also exist focus on the "foreigner problem". The following was required:
- the reduction in the number of foreigners by 30%
- the limitation of the proportion of students whose mother tongue is not German in school classes
- stricter laws against "sex offenders"
- the termination of negotiations between the EU and Turkey
Westenthaler claims, in the event of government participation, to head the Ministry of the Interior for himself , whereas the previous coalition partner ÖVP has resisted in the past two legislative periods.
On September 25, six days before the National Council election, Minister of Justice Karin Gastinger , BZÖ Vice-Chairwoman and top candidate of the party in Styria , announced that she would be leaving the BZÖ. She justified this decision with the fact that she “does not want to be active in any political movement that is xenophobic, that operates with fears” and cites Westenthaler's demand to want to deport 300,000 foreigners in the next few years. In doing so, she also referred to an interview published just a few days earlier with Eduard Mainoni (BZÖ), State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology and chairman of the BZÖ regional group in Salzburg , in which he had stated that the FPÖ and BZÖ had the "foreigner problem "As a " business with fear " instrumentalized in order to win new groups of voters
In the run-up to the election, it was questionable whether the BZÖ can jump the four percent hurdle .
Communist Party of Austria
The communists, along with the ÖVP and the SPÖ, are the only Austrian party that took part in all elections to the National Council of the Second Republic, although it has not been represented in parliament since the 1950s.
In the election campaign, the KPÖ relied partly on the Styrian politician and member of the state parliament Ernest Kaltenegger , who had achieved one of the best results in the history of the KPÖ in the municipal council election in Graz with 20% of the votes. According to surveys in June 2006, Kaltenegger has the highest sympathy values of all politicians in Styria. There was a possibility that the KPÖ could win the basic mandate in the municipal constituency of Graz and possibly in the regional constituency of Styria.
List Dr. Martin - for democracy, control, justice
At the end of July 2006, Hans-Peter Martin , who has been a member of the European Parliament since 1999 (originally as a non-party candidate on the list of the SPÖ, later with the list of Dr. Martin ) and became known as co-author of the book Die Globalisierungsfalle , the candidacy of one of his Party announced in the elections.
Martin was supported in the election by the Kronen Zeitung , in which he regularly published guest comments. In the Sunday edition of the newspaper with high circulation, Martin called on July 30, 2006 in a full-page article entitled "Guest Commentary" to support his list.
In Martin's election campaign, the focus was on criticism of the established parties and targeted recruiting for protest voters. Martin commented on a possible stay in the EU Parliament after the National Council election: "If 96.1 percent of Austrians say that we are satisfied with the conventional parties anyway, then I will continue to focus on Brussels" .
Due to the limitation of the party short name on the ballot paper to five letters, Martin chose the short name MATIN as the list name.
Five parties had collected a sufficient number of declarations of support to be able to stand for election in regional constituencies:
- the Alliance of Neutral Free Austria (NFÖ) (Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna)
- the Socialist Left Party (SLP) with Sonja Grusch (Vienna)
- the initiative € 2000 with its founder Michael Sommer (Burgenland)
- the list Safe Absolutely Independent - Franz Radinger (SAU) (Villach / Carinthia)
- the Stark list (Carinthia)
The following other parties, which had also started to collect declarations of support, could not get enough signatures to allow them to stand in the election:
- the Pirate Party of Austria (PPÖ)
- The Austrian Citizens List - We Austrians with Jowi Trenner and Christine Witty
- the Austrian Lucky Party (ÖGP)
- the Puch-Klub ÖHA with Josef T. Zauner
- the Violette Party of Austria (VPÖ) with Peter Reisenbichler
- the Social Home Party of Austria with Heinz Klötzer
- the Austrian Citizens and Business Party (ÖBWP) with Adam Galirow
- The violets with the couple Kurt and Brigitte Schrammel
- the Alpine Pogo Party of Austria (APPÖ)
The following parties that ran in the last National Council election did not run:
- the Christian voter community (CWG)
- The Democrats
- the Liberal Forum (LIF): The LIF originally waived its own candidacy due to the hopelessness of reaching the 4% hurdle. An electoral alliance was later entered into with the SPÖ with the common goal of preventing a new "right-wing" government. The LIF federal spokesman Alexander Zach received a fixed mandate on the SPÖ list. In the National Council, Zach was now organizationally assigned to the SPÖ club, but politically he acted completely independently and was not subject to any club compulsory.
Running for election
According to the National Council election regulations (NRWO), declarations of support from three members of the National Council or from 2,600 eligible voters are required for nationwide candidacy. These must be submitted by the 37th day (August 25th) before the election date.
ÖVP, SPÖ, BZÖ and the Greens chose the route through the signatures of three parliamentarians. The FPÖ, KPÖ and MATIN were able to submit the required 2,600 signatures.
Electoral authority and ranking of the parties on the ballot paper
In accordance with the National Council election regulations, the federal electoral authority determines how the parties are ranked on the ballot paper. The state electoral authorities have to follow their decision. The federal electoral authority, chaired by the Interior Minister, consists of nine members sent by the parties represented in the National Council (4 ÖVP: Michael Fischer , Reinhold Lopatka , Elmar Pichl , Werner Zögernitz , 3 SPÖ: Doris Bures , Hannes Bauer and Albrecht Konecny , 1 BZÖ: Günter Barnet , 1 Die Grünen: Michaela Sburny ) and two judges (Wolfgang Pöschl, Raimund Strieder) together.
In the run-up to the National Council election, there were controversies in this area between the FPÖ and BZÖ. Both parties claimed both the seat in the federal electoral authority, which belongs to the party that emerged as the third strongest from the last National Council election, as well as the third place on the list on the ballot papers.
By resolution of the Council of Ministers, the ÖVP-BZÖ coalition government unanimously decided on August 21, 2006 that the BZÖ was entitled to a place in the federal electoral authority, which was justified by the “continuity of identity” , since 16 of the 18 former FPÖ mandataries (and all of their government members ) had transferred to the new party. FPÖ party chairman Strache announced that he would challenge this decision before the Constitutional Court.
For the ranking of the campaigning parties, § 49 NRWO specifies:
- (3) [On the ballot paper], the order of the parties that were represented in the last elected National Council must be based on the number of seats that the parties achieved in the last National Council election in the whole of Germany.
- (5) The distinguishing party names are to be preceded by the words “List 1, 2, 3 etc.” in consecutive numbering. If a party represented in the last elected National Council does not participate in the election campaign, only the list number assigned to it according to Paragraph 3 and the word “empty” next to it has to appear in the publication.
The ranking of the parties not represented in the National Council for election depends on the date of the submission of the election proposal of the respective party.
Both FPÖ and BZÖ demanded third place on the list. The FPÖ argued that - as required by the National Council election regulations - it had already run for the last National Council election. The BZÖ was only founded later, as a spin-off from the FPÖ, so it had not obtained a mandate at all in the last ballot because it did not yet exist. In contrast, representatives of the BZÖ, as in the discussion about the seat in the federal electoral authority, argued that most of the mandataries recently drawn into the National Council for the FPÖ now mostly belonged to the BZÖ.
On August 30th, the federal electoral authority decided with 9: 2 votes that the third place on the list goes to the FPÖ. The BZÖ thus appeared at the earliest in fifth place on the ballot paper after the parties ÖVP, SPÖ, FPÖ and Die Grünen, who had already stood in the last National Council election. According to media reports, the three representatives of the SPÖ, the four representatives of the ÖVP and the two judges belonging to the federal electoral authority should have voted for this solution. The representative of the BZÖ and the representative of The Greens voted against this and, referring to Paragraph 49, Paragraph 5, advocated leaving the list empty.
After the decision to rank on the ballot paper, it was again controversial on what legal basis the BZÖ was granted a seat in the federal electoral authority.
Issues in the election campaign
A pending case at the Constitutional Court dealt with the unequal treatment of heirs. At that time, the standard value method applied to real estate , which leads to significantly lower inheritance taxes; whereas for other assets the market value was used as the assessment basis. A decision was expected in autumn 2006. In this context, Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser has pleaded for the abolition of inheritance tax , as he believes that the annual income of 140 million euros is not worth the effort and is supported by parts of the ÖVP . The BZÖ has also spoken out in favor of complete abolition. The Greens , SPÖ and FPÖ , on the other hand, criticize the fact that a complete abolition would not only help the middle class , but would also save taxes from wealthy large landowners to a particular extent . These three parties are therefore in favor of a reform of the tax to the effect of introducing high exemptions so that heirs of properties worth over EUR 500,000 (FPÖ) or EUR 350,000 (Greens) are taxed at the full market value of the property they inherited.
Compared to other Central European countries, inheritance tax revenue is particularly low in Austria. In 2005 , Germany received around EUR 4.3 billion through inheritance and gift taxes, which corresponds to 0.7% of tax revenue. As the trend in Germany shows (see graphic), inheritance tax revenue has doubled within the last 7 years, making it independent of the economy compared to other tax revenue and thus smoothing the cyclicality of the total budgetary income of a state. With only 140 million EUR and less than 0.2% of the tax revenue, almost four times less per capita income is received in Austria than in Germany. This discrepancy is mainly due to the diluted unit value method for land as well as particularly favorable tax conditions for private foundations.
Reform of the penal system
At the beginning of August, the Salzburger Nachrichten published parts of the Greens' justice program, including the demand for life imprisonment to be replaced by an upper limit of 20 years, as well as for prisoners to be legally released after serving two-thirds of the prison sentence , unless there is one increased risk of relapse or convictions for serious acts of violence. In current practice convicts are released after an average of 21 years imprisonment to life imprisonment, the majority whereas for other prison prematurely after 2/3 of a sentence on probation is dismissed. Reasons for these demands include the expensive detention, a prisoner costs the state around 100 EUR per day, whereas probation service costs only around 10 EUR per day, as well as the promotion of community service as an alternative to prison sentences. The number of people sentenced to life imprisonment and incarcerated in Austria is 155
All other parties represented in the National Council spoke out against the proposals. Reinhold Lopatka (ÖVP) described it as an “irresponsible green judicial policy” , Peter Westenthaler (BZÖ) then ruled out cooperation with the Greens after the election and spoke of a “paradise for offenders” that the Greens wanted to introduce, Norbert Darabos (SPÖ ) rejected changes in the length of life imprisonment and Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) polemicized that the Greens would try “to outdo the folly of Justice Minister Karin Gastinger [BZÖ] such as sex in prison and designer cells” .
Up to 40,000 people, mainly from the new EU countries, care for old and sick people in Austria. However, since this is illegal employment, Minister of Economic Affairs Martin Bartenstein (ÖVP) suggests lowering the earnings limit for key workers in order to legalize these employment relationships. Rejection comes from the coalition partner BZÖ ("wage dumping"), who would rather establish the nursing profession as an apprenticeship.
The green federal spokesman Alexander Van der Bellen said a comprehensive new regulation was necessary. In any case, you can see what would happen if the BZÖ's wishes for the deportation of 300,000 foreigners were realized. Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel described the discussion on Ö1 radio (August 8, 2006) as "excessive", and the government had done a lot to bring about improvements in the care sector.
On August 20, 2006, the daily newspaper "Der Standard" published a letter to the editor from Hans Weiss entitled "Der Pflege-Kanzler", in which he accused Schüssel of double standards : "Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel personally probably knows very well what he is talking about when He says that when you look after the elderly, you shouldn't always call the state straight away. His 94-year-old mother-in-law was in need of care for several months last year. And what could be more obvious than employing a Slovakian nurse around the clock? It was good and friendly, and cheap too (around 2 euros an hour). Not entirely legal, maybe, but, well, sponge it. " Shortly afterwards, the author was contacted by then editor-in-chief of the magazine "NEWS" , Josef Votzi , and asked to reveal the name of the illegal carer. Hans Weiss and a friend came up with the idea of "making a little media-critical story" and sent the friend for an interview, who posed as the said carer. The exclusive report followed in mid-September 2006: "Ms. Maria, the illegal Slovakian nurse who looked after the mother-in-law of Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, breaks her silence." Thereupon the Schüssel family sued for defamation and credit damage and Weiss' friend, a 52-year-old housewife from Vienna, was sentenced to an unconditional fine of 200 euros. Judge Nina Steindl made it clear in her judgment that there were "no indications" that an illegal nurse had been employed in the Schüssel house. The information in the interview accused the Schüssel family of "dishonorable behavior which was likely to demean them in public opinion". The defendant filed a full appeal, but the Vienna Higher Regional Court increased the fine to 1,300 euros.
In the area of unemployment, the election campaign has so far focused in particular on youth unemployment (ages 15–24). In this context, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel spoke of a secret pact between the ÖVP and Christoph Leitl , through which youth unemployment should be made to disappear. More detailed information on this secret pact was not given. The SPÖ replied to the ÖVP's announcement that it would try to halve youth unemployment from the current 11% by the end of the decade with the help of a 10-point program (more apprenticeships, more investment in education and better placement of young people). In particular, SPÖ spokeswoman Doris Bures accused the ÖVP of having worsened the situation of young people in recent years. According to the SPÖ, youth unemployment has doubled since Schüssel took office as Chancellor in 2000, according to Eurostat .
Crescent moon and summit crosses
In a TV confrontation between SPÖ top candidate Alfred Gusenbauer and BZÖ top candidate Peter Westenthaler , Gusenbauer von Westenthaler was told by the vice president of the Alpine Club , Andreas Ermacora, to the SPÖ municipal council and integration officer of the Islamic religious community in Vienna, Omar Al-Rawi , addressed letter. The content of the letter was the alleged demand by Al-Rawi to set up crescent moons instead of summit crosses on mountains, because the crosses are "symbols of Christianity" . Both Ermacora and Al-Rawi immediately denied any such correspondence. An artist group called “Don't we have any other worries” confessed to the action. Under the motto “How low can you go” , they wanted to test “how far populist politicians go” was explained in a communique that was published in the monthly magazine Datum . In his own words, Westenthaler continued to assume that the letter was genuine, but abandoned his description of the letter when both Ermacora and Al-Rawi threatened lawsuits. Comment by Al-Rawi: He will make a cross and not a crescent in the election in the SPÖ field.
On September 12, a special session of the National Council on the subject of education policy and science was scheduled by the SPÖ. In addition to the debate in parliament, the results of an OECD study on university education in Austria were announced on the same day . With a 19.6% graduate rate (35% OECD average) and only 37% of new students in one year (53% OECD average), Austria ranks second to last in the OECD - only Turkey had worse scores. In particular, the small amount of funds made available for universities was also the subject of criticism from the OECD. Expenditure was 1.1% of GDP , whereas in 1995 1.2% of GDP was spent on tertiary education (OECD average 1.4%). Education Minister Elisabeth Gehrer described these values as good feedback that must be taken seriously .
In particular, the OECD also criticized the high drop-out rate of students; only 2/3 of all new students finish their studies. In an OECD comparison, Austria is in the lower third of all countries compared.
The ruling parties countered that Austria's values could hardly be compared with those of other OECD countries, bachelor's degree programs only existed for a short time, and many specialist training courses and colleges in Austria were not considered to be academic training. Since the introduction of the tuition fees, the duration of study has been shortened and more students have successfully completed their studies.
Surveys in February and March 2006 still showed a uniform picture of the distribution of votes, with the SPÖ at 40 to 42%, the ÖVP at 37 to 38%, the Greens at 10 to 11%, the FPÖ at 7 to 8% and the BZÖ at 2 to 3%.
Surveys published after the BAWAG affair in March 2006 showed that the ÖVP was on par with the SPÖ for the first time in some time or had already taken the lead.
From June to July the ÖVP was 39 to 42%, the SPÖ 32 to 36%, the Greens 10 to 14%, the FPÖ 5 to 9% and the BZÖ 2 to 5%.
Shortly before the election, the status of the two major parties became increasingly unclear. On the one hand, a head-to-head race was announced - the forecast lead of the ÖVP had shrunk from 6 to 8% to 0 to 4% - on the other hand, a majority of the ÖVP's election victory was still expected. After the election it turned out that the prognoses had been incorrect, neither did the ÖVP achieve a majority of votes, nor did the BZÖ fail to pass the four percent hurdle .
|Two-thirds majority (from 122 seats)|
|Absolute majority (from 92 seats)|
|ÖVP, FPÖ, BZÖ||94|
According to the preliminary official final result, the SPÖ had 68 seats, the ÖVP reached 66, the Greens 21, the FPÖ 21 and the BZÖ 7.
On the evening of the election, SPÖ chairman Gusenbauer referred to the ÖVP as the first point of contact for the upcoming negotiations on the formation of a coalition government in a television discussion and tended to rule out three-party coalitions. The FPÖ and the BZÖ would, as the SPÖ already determined during the election campaign, not be eligible for a coalition. A coalition of the SPÖ and the Greens did not achieve the required majority in the National Council.
For ÖVP chairman Schüssel, in addition to the SPÖ and the Greens, the BZÖ was also an option for negotiations. A parliamentary majority would be given in a SPÖ-ÖVP or an ÖVP-FPÖ-BZÖ coalition, but the latter was excluded by Schüssel.
In 1999 the ÖVP initially ruled out any cooperation with the FPÖ, but then formed a coalition with the FPÖ.
FPÖ chairman Strache, who at the beginning of the election campaign had advocated that the FPÖ should preferably continue to work as an opposition party, did not rule out participation in the government on election evening. A reunification of the FPÖ and BZÖ was out of the question for him.
According to the preliminary official final result (with voting cards), coalitions of the Greens neither achieved a majority in the National Council with the SPÖ nor with the ÖVP. According to party chairman Van der Bellen, the Greens ruled out cooperation in three-party coalitions with the BZÖ or the FPÖ.
The BZÖ could enter into a three-party coalition with the ÖVP and FPÖ, but this is largely rejected by the ÖVP and the FPÖ. The BZÖ can only imagine reunification with the FPÖ with another FP leadership.
A three-party coalition consisting of SPÖ, Greens and FPÖ or BZÖ was considered impossible.
The formation of a government turned out to be extremely difficult. The National Council election on October 1st produced the SPÖ as the party with the largest number of votes and mandates, despite a slight loss of votes, just ahead of the strongest party since the last election, the ÖVP . Alfred Gusenbauer of the SPÖ was commissioned by Federal President Heinz Fischer to form a government in the direction of a grand coalition . The coalition negotiations between the SPÖ and ÖVP are proving to be very difficult. After the establishment of two committees of inquiry - the SPÖ had voted for the establishment together with the Greens and the FPÖ - the ÖVP suspended negotiations at the beginning of November and finally resumed on November 16. On January 8, 2007, the SPÖ and ÖVP finally agreed to form a grand coalition. SPÖ chairman Gusenbauer became the new Federal Chancellor. To this end, the key areas of foreign, finance and interior ministries went to the ÖVP. The official inauguration of the Federal Government of Gusenbauer took place on January 11, 2007.
Election result and coalition speculation
In the National Council election on October 1, 2006, the SPÖ and ÖVP won 68 and 66 respectively out of 183 seats in the Austrian Parliament (National Council); the smaller parties Greens , FPÖ and BZÖ received 21, 21 and 7 seats respectively.
The previous federal government under Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel , a coalition of ÖVP and (most recently) BZÖ , had thus lost its parliamentary majority. Federal President Heinz Fischer thereupon commissioned Chancellor Schüssel with the provisional continuation of government affairs and commissioned Alfred Gusenbauer, as party leader and candidate for chancellor of the party with the largest number of seats, to form a new government.
An SPÖ-ÖVP coalition was initially considered the most likely solution, which the Federal President explicitly and, according to surveys, is preferred by a majority of the population. No other two-party coalition had a majority in parliament. Only a coalition of three parties would have had a majority in the National Council. For substantive and also for personal reasons of the coalition parties, however, these were considered impossible or at least extremely unstable. (A tripartite coalition only existed in Austria in the first post-war years 1945–1947, when the concentration governments Figl I and Figl II were in office, in which members of all three parliamentary parties (ÖVP, SPÖ and KPÖ) were represented.)
Negotiating teams from the SPÖ and ÖVP met in October to begin drawing up a coalition agreement.
Eurofighter and Banking Committee
At the first meeting of the newly formed National Council, the SPÖ, Greens and FPÖ submitted a joint motion calling for a parliamentary committee of inquiry to investigate the purchase of the 18 Eurofighters and the possibility of withdrawing from the Eurofighter contract. ÖVP and BZÖ voted against the establishment of a committee; They pointed out that the type decision was already four and a half years old and that there was no procurement process that had been discussed and examined so thoroughly: 14 urgent inquiries, 19 requests to a committee of inquiry (all of which had been rejected by the government majority ÖVP-BZÖ ), as well as three reports from the Court of Auditors and six criminal charges that had been put aside by the public prosecutor for lack of suspicion.
As expected, the motion was accepted with the votes of the three (previous) opposition parties.
Another motion for a parliamentary committee of inquiry to investigate the banking supervision, which is part of the Ministry of Finance, in relation to its supervisory duties in the area of BAWAG PSK ( BAWAG affair ), Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank , but also Raiffeisen International and its business in Eastern Europe, was also decided against the votes of the two remaining ruling parties.
Interruption of negotiations
The ÖVP felt offended by these defeats in the vote and broke off government negotiations with the SPÖ - initially for an indefinite period of time, then for the duration of the committee of inquiry, as there was no basis of trust for coalition negotiations during the committee's work. According to the ÖVP, the Eurofighter Committee could complete its work by December at the appropriate speed, and a coalition agreement could be negotiated in three more weeks.
Previous committees of inquiry had lasted much longer (often over a year); the Greens pointed out that tens of thousands of pages of files would have to be read before the witnesses could be meaningfully questioned, so that the first testimony could not be heard until December 2006 at the earliest.
In contrast, the SPÖ sees no conflict between the work on a government agreement and the work in the committee of inquiry and would like to continue the coalition negotiations as soon as possible - possibly excluding the issues of national defense and banks in the meantime - and also draws comparisons to the time of previous coalitions of both parties, in which committees of inquiry also investigated allegations against prominent SPÖ members (e.g. National Council President Leopold Gratz in connection with the Lucona committee of inquiry). The SPÖ sees the behavior of the ÖVP as a tactic that should lead to new elections soon. Josef Cap , the SPÖ's club chairman , suggested that the ÖVP conclude the government negotiations before the start of the questioning in the committee, but this was rejected by Wilhelm Molterer , the ÖVP's executive club chairman .
During the weeks of the freeze on negotiations, both politicians and journalists repeatedly speculated about the possibility of an SPÖ minority government . On November 16, the ÖVP board decided to resume coalition negotiations.
Successful conclusion of negotiations
On Monday, January 8, 2007, the SPÖ and ÖVP announced in a press conference that the negotiations were over and that a grand coalition had been formed. The Chancellery receives election winners SPÖ, each party has 3 state secretaries.
With this distribution, the ÖVP has become much stronger than expected, since the office of finance minister was heavily discussed in advance and the SPÖ no longer wanted to see the previous ÖVP finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser in office. Even the posts of interior and foreign ministers were not necessarily expected in the hands of the People's Party. At the same time, however, the SPÖ holds the posts of defense minister, who in the near future will be tasked with looking for ways to get out of the Eurofighter contract, which the SPÖ does not like, and the education minister, whose portfolios were heavily represented in the SPÖ's election manifesto.
However, on many of the big issues, the results obtained were quite unexpected. The Eurofighters, which are heavily criticized by the SPÖ, are not an issue in the formation of a government, their abolition should be considered after the outcome of the associated committee of inquiry. The SPÖ could not enforce the abolition of tuition fees, only scholarships and student loans are to be further developed and the opportunity to "work off" the tuition fees of almost 360 euros with the help of 60 hours of "social service" (for example tutoring) is to be offered. This meant that the SPÖ was only able to fulfill a major election promise very unsatisfactorily; Representatives of the student body have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the social service offer and have commented on the solution as inadequate. And also for the comprehensive school required by the SPÖ, it currently looks rather bad, a differentiated system should at least remain according to previous statements by ÖVP boss Schüssel. For this reason, among other things, criticism is being voiced from within its own ranks that the SPÖ allowed the ÖVP to riot too much in the negotiations. On January 8th, student representatives and SJÖ members occupied the SPÖ party headquarters and expressed their displeasure with the government agreement with banners and chants. The former SPÖ finance minister Hannes Androsch and the ÖGB president Rudolf Hundstorfer were also disappointed with the result of the government negotiations.
Other resolved points were, for example, the introduction of postal voting (required by the ÖVP) and the attempt of e-voting for Austrians abroad, lowering the voting age to 16 years (SPÖ requirement) and increasing the legislative period to 5 years from the next election. Another change concerned child benefit, where you could now choose between 36 months with 436 euros each and 18 months (15 months one parent, the other at least 3) with 800 euros each.
The government cabinet consisted of 20 members instead of the previous 19, because "19 cannot be divided," said SPÖ boss Gusenbauer; this includes 6 state secretaries. The previous finance minister, Karl-Heinz Grasser, declared on January 9th that he would no longer belong to the new government.
The government was sworn in by Federal President Heinz Fischer on Thursday, January 11, 2007. The solemn act in the Hofburg was accompanied by the protests of 2,000 demonstrators from the Austrian Students' Union , the Socialist Youth , the Association of Socialist Students of Austria , the Action Critical Students , the Anti-Imperialist Coordination, the Communist Initiative and other organizations; In protest against the non-abolition of tuition fees, Barbara Blaha , chairwoman of the Austrian student union and member of the SPÖ-affiliated VSStÖ , and Sylvia Kuba, chairwoman of the VSStÖ, resigned from the SPÖ on January 13, 2007 .
The Presidency of the National Council has traditionally been made up of representatives of the three strongest parties based on the number of votes:
- 1. National Council President Barbara Prammer , SPÖ
- 2. National Council President Michael Spindelegger , ÖVP
- 3. National Council President Eva Glawischnig , The Greens
The FPÖ had renounced its own candidate.
For the conflict between the Greens and the FPÖ over the third ombudsman see ibid.
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