Austria. Former Minister of the Interior and European
Parliamentarian Ernst Strasser was sentenced in January to
four years in prison for bribery. Strasser, who was a member
of the Conservative People's Party (OVP), was convicted of
offering lobbying services in the European Parliament for
The first nationwide referendum in Austria was held in
January. The Social Democrats, the largest of the ruling
parties, advocated the dismantling of the general military
duty, but close to 60% of voters voted to retain it.
Countryaah, Gerald Klug became the new Minister of Defense in March,
when Norbert Darabos resigned to lead the Social Democratic
SPÖ's election campaign ahead of the September parliamentary
When regional elections were held in Carinthia in March,
the SPÖ again became the largest party, following a dramatic
fall for the right-wing populists who have ruled since 2009.
The Federation for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) then received
45% of the votes while the Kärnten Freedom Party (FPK),
which since replaced BZÖ, now received only 17%. Internal
fragmentation and corruption scandals contributed to the
case. Carinthia was the home ground for Jörg Haider, the
forefront of Austrian right-wing extremism. He passed away
At an EU summit in May, Austria basically agreed to ease
its banking secrecy, after a decade of pressure and
negotiations with the EU. The EU demanded the exchange of
information on account holders from other countries in order
to prevent tax evasion.
In the parliamentary elections in September, both
government parties lost SPÖ and ÖVP votes. SPÖ received
support of just under 27% and ÖVP of 24%. The result was the
worst since World War II for both parties, which often ruled
together in a so-called large coalition. Together, they
received 99 of 183 seats in the National Council and thus
retained their own majority.
Several smaller parties moved forward instead. The
xenophobic Freedom Party (FPÖ), the party Haider first
founded, was supported by every fifth voter and increased
from 34 to 40 seats. At the same time, BZÖ ended up under
the four per cent block and became without a mandate. The
Green Party also grew and two newly formed parties took
place in Parliament: the EU-skeptical Team Stronach and the
liberal New Austria.
After the election, ÖVP's leader, Foreign Minister
Michael Spindelegger, opened up to form a marked right-wing
government with FPÖ and Team Stronach. But President Heinz
Fischer commissioned Chancellor and Social Democrat Werner
Faymann to re-form government.
Spindelegger now became finance minister and only
27-year-old Sebastian Kurz took over the post of foreign