Wolfgang bowl

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alternative description
Wolfgang Schüssel (2017)
Signature of Wolfgang Schüssel

Wolfgang Schüssel (born June 7, 1945 in Vienna ) is a former Austrian politician ( ÖVP ). He belonged to the Austrian federal government from 1989 and was federal party leader of the ÖVP from 1995 to 2007. From February 4, 2000 to January 11, 2007, Schüssel was the Austrian Federal Chancellor and, as such, Chairman of the European Council in the first half of 2006 . From October 30, 2006 to September 8, 2011 he was again a member of the National Council and from 2006 to 2008 club chairman of the parliamentary club of the ÖVP , which he had already led at short notice from 1999 to 2000 and from 2002 to 2003.

Political career

Start of career from 1968

Immediately after Wolfgang Schüssel completed his law studies at the University of Vienna in 1968 with a doctorate , his professional and political career began in the ÖVP. From 1968 to 1975 he was secretary of the party's parliamentary club , from 1975 to 1991 general secretary of the Austrian Economic Association , from 1979 to 1989 member of the National Council and from 1987 to 1989 also deputy club chairman. During this time he was involved in the coalition negotiations between the ÖVP and the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) to continue the grand coalition after the National Council election in 1986 and in Austria's accession negotiations to the EEA and the European Union .

Active in the federal government from 1989

In 1989, Schüssel succeeded Robert Graf (ÖVP) as Federal Minister for Economic Affairs under Federal Chancellor Franz Vranitzky (SPÖ, see Federal Government Vranitzky II ). On April 22, 1995 he replaced Erhard Busek as federal party leader of the ÖVP. From this he also took over the office of Vice Chancellor , at the same time he moved to the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs as Federal Minister , where he replaced Alois Mock (ÖVP). He also exercised these functions in the governments of Vranitzky IV (SPÖ-ÖVP-Koalition, 1994 to 1996), Vranitzky V (SPÖ-ÖVP-Koalition, 1996 to 1997) and Klima (SPÖ-ÖVP-Koalition, 1997 to 2000).

Gerfried Sperl comments on the coalition climate, which became much sharper after Schuessel's party chairmanship, that Federal President Klestil had refused Wolfgang Schüssel twice in 1995 to switch to the FPÖ .

In the summer of 1997, the so-called "breakfast affair" became dangerous for Schüssel's political career. During an informal breakfast round with Austrian journalists on the sidelines of the EU summit in Amsterdam, according to the statements of several people present, the then foreign minister had the German Bundesbank president Hans Tietmeyer as the “real pig” (because he betrayed the German finance minister Theo Waigel ) and the Danish prime minister and Foreign Minister referred to as a "fool". In order to minimize the damage of his statements, Schüssel immediately traveled to Frankfurt, where he smoothed things over in a one-on-one conversation with Tietmeyer. Schüssel publicly denied the statements, some of which were confirmed by several witnesses in affidavits. The editor-in-chief of the Salzburger Nachrichten , Ronald Barazon , wrote an editorial with the introductory sentence "Wolfgang Schüssel is lying." In the National Council, Schüssel said of the accusations: "The whole story was thought up by Austrians, played out abroad and launched."

After the National Council elections in 1999 , Schüssel was briefly chairman of the ÖVP in the National Council until the new government was sworn in in 2000.

Federal Chancellor from 2000 to 2007

Before the elections, Schüssel had announced that he would go into opposition if the ÖVP fell to third place in favor of the voters. In fact, with 26.9% of the valid votes, the ÖVP fell to third place behind the SPÖ and FPÖ (which received 415 votes more than the ÖVP). After the National Council election on October 3, 1999, the SPÖ, led by Viktor Klimas, broke into tough coalition talks. These talks failed in December 1999, however, and as a result Schüssel and Jörg Haider agreed on an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition. Schüssel became Chancellor of Austria on February 4, 2000 ( Kabinett Schüssel I ). The participation of the right-wing populist FPÖ in government resulted in both domestic (eg “ Thursday demonstrations ”) and international protests. The governments of the other 14 EU member states decided to reduce official contacts with the Austrian government to a minimum. On the part of Schuessel and the coalition, and subsequently also parts of the press, these measures were described as " sanctions against Austria " and were massively criticized. The 14 EU governments repealed it in September 2000 after the so-called “Wise Report” was available.

Internal differences at the FPÖ coalition partner led to the Knittelfelder FPÖ assembly on September 7, 2002 and ultimately resulted in the resignation of Vice Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer , Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser and Peter Westenthaler (all three FPÖ members at the time). The coalition government broke up and in the following election to the National Council on November 24, 2002 , the ÖVP under Schuessel's leadership achieved a record profit (+ 15.4%) and a share of the vote of 42.3%. For the first time since the election in 1966 , the ÖVP was again the party with the highest number of votes. For the period in which the government was being formed, the ÖVP parliamentary club reelected Schüssel on December 18, 2002 as club chairman. After the subsequent coalition negotiations with the SPÖ and the Greens were unsuccessful, Schüssel renewed the coalition with the severely weakened FPÖ ( Federal Government Schüssel II ). In April 2005, the leadership of the FPÖ, under the leadership of Jörg Haider, including its members of the government and most of the liberal parliamentary club, split off from the Freedom Party and founded the Alliance Future Austria (BZÖ). ÖVP and BZÖ, which had a narrow absolute majority in the National Council, continued the coalition. Schüssel remained Federal Chancellor until the end of the legislative period .

Wolfgang Schüssel with George W. Bush (December 2005)

In accordance with the rotation principle for the presidency of the European Council , Schüssel succeeded Tony Blair as President of the European Union on January 1, 2006 ; on July 1, 2006, Tarja Halonen , President of Finland , took office. On June 20 and 21, 2006, the EU Council Presidency met with US President George W. Bush in Vienna.

After the sudden death of Interior Minister Liese Prokop on December 31, 2006, Schüssel also temporarily took over the Federal Ministry of the Interior from January 1, 2007 (swearing: January 2, 2007) until a new federal government was sworn in.

Since the 2006 elections

With the National Council election on October 1, 2006 , the ÖVP fell behind the SPÖ again. As a result, SPÖ chairman Alfred Gusenbauer was tasked with forming a new government. In the coalition talks with the SPÖ, Schüssel led the ÖVP's negotiating team. On January 9, 2007 it was announced that Schüssel would resign as ÖVP chairman and would not be available as a minister in the Gusenbauer cabinet . The new government was sworn in on January 11th, and Schüssel handed over the official business to his successor in his former office in the Federal Chancellery on Ballhausplatz . Wilhelm Molterer , who held the office of Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister in the new government , had already been designated as the new ÖVP chairman . Schüssel took over the leadership of the ÖVP parliamentary club from Molterer, which he resigned after the 2008 National Council election.

Schüssel, who was also under discussion for an office in the EU Commission , was a member of the board of trustees of the non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation from 2007 to 2016 and has been a permanent guest on the committee ever since. He has also been President of the Austrian Society for Foreign Policy and the United Nations (ÖGAVN) since December 2008 , a member of the supervisory board of the German energy company RWE since March 2010 and sits on Investcorps' European Advisory Board. In 2013 he founded the non-profit association United Europe together with the German entrepreneur Jürgen Großmann . Since October 10, 2015 he has been chairman of the board of trustees of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS). He has been a member of the supervisory board of the Russian mobile communications provider MTS since 2018, and in March 2019 he was nominated for the board of directors of the Russian mineral oil company Lukoil .

At the beginning of September 2011, Schüssel resigned from the National Council due to the Telekom affair .

Schüssel was a member of the European People's Party (EPP) Council of Elders, which was set up in 2019 to examine the handling of Hungarian Fidesz by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán .

Political activity

Schüssel succeeded in uniting the ÖVP, which had fallen out before his chairmanship, and became the first chairman of this party since Josef Klaus (1964–1970) to become Federal Chancellor. Although he, like his predecessor Erhard Busek, was originally assigned to the liberal ÖVP wing, he quickly rallied the more conservative part of his party behind him. Since the beginning of his political activity, he has campaigned for budget discipline and reforms in the public service and the privatization of nationalized industry (slogan: “More private - less state”). His reluctance to comment on statements made by representatives of the coalition partner FPÖ earned him the nickname “ Chancellor of Silence ”. On the other hand, he himself propagated the image of a "Wendekanzler" who had implemented the necessary reforms that the consensus policy of the previous grand coalitions with the SPÖ had failed to do. The coalition with the right-wing populist FPÖ, led by Jörg Haider , who had helped him to the post of Chancellor, not only sparked outrage and criticism across Europe, but also domestic displeasure and years of demonstrations.

Under the Chancellorship of Schuessel, a comprehensive pension reform (advertised as "pension security reform") was carried out with the aim of ensuring that the pension systems were financially viable in the long term . a. implemented by setting up a second and third pension level ("new severance pay", state-sponsored "future provision"). Shortly after the pension reform, there was partial pension harmonization with the aim of standardizing the different pension systems in Austria. Furthermore, an administrative reform to reduce the number of civil servants, the consolidation of state finances with a reduction in the budget deficit, extensive privatization of state-owned companies (see Österreichische Industrieholding , ÖIAG), a stimulation of the capital market and a tax reform were carried out with varying degrees of success . The tax reform carried out in 2005 included a reduction in corporate income tax (KöSt) from 34% to 25%, the introduction of group taxation for corporations and the removal of the lowest income tax bracket .

Tuition fees were also introduced during Schuessel's chancellorship in 2001 , and the introduction of the electronic patient card (“e-card”) was completed in May 2005, which replaced proof of insurance on paper. An outpatient fee was introduced in 2000 for initial treatment in hospital outpatient departments . The aim was to ensure that patients with minor injuries / illnesses should visit the cheaper general practitioners instead of the more expensive hospital outpatient departments. However, the outpatient fee only lasted a few months, as the Constitutional Court recognized it as unconstitutional due to numerous exceptions. In the transport sector, the obligation to pay tolls for trucks ( vehicles over 3.5 t) on motorways and expressways was introduced on January 1, 2004 and thus supplemented the obligation to pay tolls for cars (vignette) that had existed since 1997. The immigration law package that was adopted in 2005 and entered into force on January 1, 2006 brought about far-reaching changes in Austrian asylum and aliens law. In addition to the two governing parties, the package was also decided by the SPÖ and the FPÖ and led to a drastic tightening of asylum and aliens law. The beginning restitution payments to victims of National Socialism were welcomed by all parties .

Criticism aroused that in the course of his chancellorship the tax and contribution rate (with the peak value 45.5% in the economic low of 2001) and unemployment (annual average 2005: 252,655; increase 2000-2005 by +30.0%, among young people up to 25 years by + 48.75%) reached their highest level during the Second Republic. By 2006 the tax and contribution rate was reduced to approx. 40.7% and at the beginning of 2006 there was a decline in the unemployment rate , which was largely caused by new training courses. Among the government's failed projects are critics of the “ zero deficit ” promised as a goal of budget policy , which was only achieved in 2001. The national debt as a percentage of GDP could be reduced from 65.5% (2000) to 61.8% (2006), which corresponds to the lowest value since 1993. Another goal of Schüssel was to increase the research quota (share of research expenditure in relation to GDP) to 3%; he missed this target with 2.5% (2006), which was, however, significantly higher than the last time under the grand coalition with 1.9% (2000) and the highest research quota of the second republic to date. As a further measure to strengthen Austria as a research location, it was decided in March 2006 to found IST Austria in Maria Gugging , where top-level basic research is to be carried out. After Austria's poor performance in the international PISA study in 2003 and in the OECD comparative study in 2005, education and university policy in particular came under fire. This was one of the main points of attack for the opposition , along with the purchase of “ Eurofighter ” interceptors .

The political landscape in Austria has changed fundamentally since 2000. The ÖVP regained strength after its worst result in the 1999 election, the SPÖ found itself in the unfamiliar role as an opposition party. Under Schuessel's chancellorship, the internationally controversial FPÖ, which was the second strongest force behind the SPÖ after the National Council election in 1999, suffered heavy losses, which representatives of the ÖVP consider to be his merit. The ÖVP-FPÖ coalition led to a new distribution of power in the Austrian political system. Before the Schüssel I government, Austria was dominated by the proportional representation system of the SPÖ and ÖVP; trade unions and business representatives also played a more important role in the formation of political will within the framework of the social partnership than was the case under Schuessel's chancellorship. Above all, critics saw this as an expression of a new division of power and haggling between the ÖVP and the FPÖ / BZÖ, as well as a deliberate turning away from organizations dominated by social democrats such as the trade union federation and a turn to those closer to the ÖVP such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Industrialists .

From 2008 until his resignation in September 2011, Schüssel, who had always criticized early retirement, received early retirement despite his membership in parliament. His approach was criticized in the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten , among others , because his pension entitlement (around 11,000 euros) was significantly higher than his parliamentary salary (a little over 8,000 euros).

The view of his reign was permanently impaired in the course of 2011, when the investigations into the BUWOG affair made headlines, the telecommunications affair became public and the investigations into the Eurofighter affair had to be restarted due to public pressure. Also alleged irregularities in the ÖBB , a Novomatic favoring draft for a new version of the gambling law and the granting of citizenship to Russian investors after Jörg Haider's intervention became the subject of the public discussion about corruption during the Schüssel era. The former Federal Chancellor was not accused of personal enrichment, but rather wrong decisions in the choice of his ministers and a lack of control. Ultimately, the culmination of the unusually high number of scandals during his tenure - and not just the telecom affair - led to Schüssel's resignation from his last political office.


Family and private

Wolfgang Schüssel and Nina Blum 2016

Wolfgang Schuessel's father Ludwig was a journalist, his mother Helene a handicraft teacher. He attended the Schottengymnasium in Vienna . Schüssel is married to the psychotherapist Krista Schüssel and has two children. His daughter Nina is an actress and worked as a communications trainer in the Chancellery in 2003, although her team was not ranked first after the advertisement, which resulted in critical media reports and a parliamentary question from the SPÖ.

Wolfgang Schüssel plays the piano, accordion, guitar and cello; other hobbies are hiking in the mountains, playing football and drawing (e.g. caricatures).

After completing his studies, Wolfgang Schüssel was released from military service first as secretary of the ÖVP parliamentary club and then as general secretary of the Austrian Economic Association out of “public interest” .


  • More private - less state. Suggestions for limiting public tasks (with Johannes Hawlik ), Signum, Vienna 1983, ISBN 3-85436-013-4 .
  • Black economy in Austria. An economic moral picture (with Ernst Hofbauer ), Österreichischer Wirtschaftsverlag, Vienna 1984, ISBN 3-85212-030-6 .
  • State let up. Proposals for the limitation and privatization of public tasks (with Johannes Hawlik ), Herold, Munich-Vienna 1985, ISBN 3-7008-0298-6 .
  • New dimensions of the market economy , Association of Austrian Banks and Bankers, Vienna 1989.
  • In the name of the future. Political orientations for Austria in the 21st century , Ibera, Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-900436-79-7 .
  • Uphill. 50 tour episodes , recorded by Albert Steidl with a foreword by Peter Habeler , Styria, Graz-Vienna-Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-222-12974-6 .
  • “Reality has overtaken the wildest dreams”. 5th Petersberg Europe Speech 2007. Speech on the occasion of the anniversary of the Petersberg Agreement of November 22, 1949 on November 20, 2007 , Sankt Augustin, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-940955-34-0 .
  • Disclosed , recorded by Alexander Purger, Ecowin, Salzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-902404-76-3 .
  • The century is getting brighter. Encounters & Reflections , Amalthea, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-99050-017-0 .
  • What. Courage. Power. Remarks and noteworthy things , Ecowin, Elsbethen 2020, ISBN 978-3-7110-0270-9 .


Web links

Commons : Wolfgang Schüssel  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gerfried Sperl: The change of power. Austria's political crisis at the beginning of the 3rd millennium , Molden, Wien 2000, p. 36f
  2. a b Werner A. Perger: Who, if not me? , in the time 7/2000
  3. National Council, XX.GP, stenographic protocol 83rd Session / page 82
  4. https://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20021218_OTS0165/schuessel-einstimmig-zum-oevp-klubobmann-gewaehlt
  5. Schüssel: curator in a German foundation . New volunteering. In: The press . April 20, 2007, p. 4 .
  6. [1]
  7. [2]  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.rwe.com  
  8. rwe.com , accessed on August 12, 2010
  9. The gravy train , German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, June 8, 2012
  10. Christoph Riess: United Europe eV founded - RIESS STRATEGY PILOTS. Accessed December 8, 2019 (German).
  11. Wolfgang Schüssel elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation [3]
  12. orf.at: Wolfgang Schüssel becomes Lukoil's supervisory board . Article dated March 7, 2019, accessed March 7, 2019.
  13. Wolfgang Schüssel resigns from his mandate , Der Standard, September 5, 2011
  14. ^ Report: Work of the EPP Council of Wise Men on Hungary terminated. In: ORF.at . May 31, 2020, accessed May 31, 2020 .
  15. ^ Institute for Advanced Studies : Forecast of the Austrian Economy 2002-2003 , press release, 2002
  16. ^ Austrian National Bank: table of fiscal indicators according to Maastricht
  17. Austrian National Bank: Selected Economic Indicators
  18. News : Hubert Wachter on the self-dismantling of a statesman who is looking for their equal , January 7th, 2009
  19. Schüssel takes his pension . Upper Austrian news . December 24, 2008.
  20. AAS 89 (1997), n.7, p. 513.
  21. MP 2006 no 20 poz. 222
  22. Heads of state and government celebrated in Vienna in News of October 18, 2006, accessed on April 12, 2010.
  23. ^ Wiener Zeitung : Wolfgang Schüssel made the ÖVP the Chancellor Party again ( Memento from April 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  24. Parlament.gv.at: Inquiry by MPs Dr. Wittmann and comrades to the Federal Chancellor (1338 / J XXII. GP), 2004 (accessed on June 17, 2011)
  25. ^ Austria : The Army Tricks of Politicians , February 15, 2011