Austria. The so-called Ibiza scandal, which burst in mid-May, led to the resignation and re-election in September. But some major changes did not bring about this scandal, which the Social Democrats (SPÖ) gladly described as “the biggest scandal in Austria after the world war”.
The scandal consisted in a revelation that Austria’s vice-chancellor and party leader of the right-wing populist Freedom Party (FPÖ), Heinz-Christian Strache, had been deceived just before the 2017 election by a woman who, at a meeting in Ibiza, had pretended to be a Russian billionaire. The woman had said she wanted to invest several hundred million euros in Austria. Among other things, she would take control of Austria’s largest newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, and thus help FPÖ in the electoral movement. However, the meeting was sneakily filmed, and the Ibiza scandal became a fact, as did a Russian connection to right-wing parties.
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Strache resigned immediately, a day later, also Interior Minister Herbert Kickl. After that, all the ministers from the right-wing populist party FPÖ were forced out of the government, and President Alexander Van der Bellen recommended new elections in September. When the government and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lost a vote of no confidence on May 27, Kurz and the government resigned, and a new election was announced. The party politically independent Brigitte Bierlein was appointed temporary Chancellor. The 69-year-old lawyer thus became the country’s first female Chancellor – albeit temporarily.
Despite the Ibiza scandal, Chancellor Kurz did well in the EU elections on 26 May. His Conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) was the largest with 34.6% of the vote, giving 7 seats. There was also an 8 percentage point increase for the party since the 2014 European elections. The Social Democratic SPÖ gained 23.9% (5 seats) and FPÖ ended at 17.2% (3 seats). The green parties The green/green option got 14.1% (2 seats) and liberal NEOS (New Austria) got 8.4% (1 seats).
At the recent September 29 election, former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz strengthened his positions. His ÖVP received 38.4% of the vote, which was an increase of almost 7 percentage points; the right-wing nationalist FPÖ ended up at 17.3% (a decrease of almost 9 percentage points), while the Social Democratic SPÖ only gained 21.5%, a decrease of 5.3 percentage points, which is the party’s worst result ever. The biggest winner was the Greens, who went from 3.8% in the 2017 election to 12.4% (an increase of 8.6 percentage points).
After the election, Sebastian Kurz announced that he would hold government talks with all parties. FPÖ’s newly-appointed leader Norbert Hofer announced at the same time that he was preparing to sit in opposition. However, this was not the case. In mid-December, Kurz and ÖVP reached an agreement with the right-wing populist and xenophobic FPÖ to form a coalition government. This meant that the country was back on square one, that the Ibiza scandal was over and that the government basically looked the same at the end of the year as at the beginning – except for the resigned FPÖ leader and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who are now completely forced to leave politics.
Area: 83,882 km2 (world ranking: 112)
Population density: 105 per km2 (as of 2017, world ranking: 97)
Official languages: German, Slovenian (regional), Croatian (regional), Hungarian (regional)
Gross domestic product: 369.7 billion. Euro; Real growth: 3.0%
Gross national product (GNP, per resident and year): 45,440 US$
Currency: 1 euro (euro) = 100 cents
Stauffenbergstr. 1, 10785 Berlin
Telephone 030 202870,
Fax 030 2290569 www.oesterreichische-botschaft.de
Head of State: Alexander Van der Bellen, Head of Government: Sebastian Kurz, Exterior: Karin Kneissl
National holiday: 26.10. (Adoption of the Neutrality Act 1955)
9 federal states
State and form of government
Constitution from 1920 in the version from 1929
Parliamentary-democratic Federal Republic
Parliament: National Council with 183 members, election every 5 years; Federal Council (Länderkammer) with 61 members.
Direct election of the Federal President every 6 years (single re-election) Right to
vote from 16 years.
Population of: Austrians, last census 2011: 8,401,940 in. Proportion of foreigners 2017: 15.2%
Cities (with population): (As of 2018) Vienna 1,888,776 inh., Graz 286,292, Linz 204,846, Salzburg 153,377, Innsbruck 132,493, Klagenfurt 100,369, Villach 61,879, Wels 61,233, St. Pölten 54,649, Dornbirn 49,278, Wiener Neustadt 44,820, Steyr 38,331, Feldkirch 33,420, Bregenz 29.806, Leonding 28.698, Klosterneuburg 27.058, Baden 26.286, Wolfsberg 25.035, Leoben 24.645, Krems an der Donau 24.610, Traun 24.477, Amstetten 23.656, Lustenau 22.821, Kapfenberg 22.798, Hallein 21.150, Mödling 20.555, Kufstein 18.026, Traun 18.823, Braunau am Inn 17.095, Stockerau 16.916, Saalfelden am Steinernen Meer 16.700, Hohenems 16.317, Tulln an der Donau 16.197, Ansfelden 16.194, Bruck an der Mur 15.885, Telfs 15.747, Spittal an der Drau 15.413; Hinterhornbach 92
Religions: 62.3% Christians (58.8% Catholics, 3.5% Protestants), 7.9% Muslims, 5.7 Orthodox, 0.2% Jews; 23.9% other religions or non-denominationalists (status: 2006)
Languages: German; Recognized minority languages: Burgenland-Croatian, Hungarian, Slovene, Czech, Romanes, Slovak
Employees by economic sector: agriculture. 3.9%, industry 25.0%, business 71.1% (2017)
Unemployment (in% of all labor force): 2017: 5.5%
Inflation rate (in%): 2017: 0.9%
Foreign trade: import: 147.6 billion euros (2017); Export: 141.9 billion euros (2017)
Austria lies in the Central European west wind zone. Precipitation decreases from the outer edge of the Alps (up to 1,250mm) inwards (up to 905mm). The temperatures in Vienna are -2 ° C in January mean and 20 ° C in July mean.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Austria in 2019 was 8,954,991, ranking number 97 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.720% yearly, and the population density was 108.6666 people per km2.