Austria. The year began without a functioning government. Certainly the former strongest party ÖVP (Österreichische Volkspartei) had gone out of the extra-election in November 2002 (plus 15%) at the same time as the coalition partner FPÖ (Friheitliche Partei Österreichs) was severely wounded (minus 17%), but party leader Wolfgang Schüssel had not yet succeeded in forming a new government.
After three months of negotiations with the Social Democrats SPÖ (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs) first and then with the environmental parties Die Grünen it ended with a new coalition with the FPÖ. The main reason for the new order would probably be that Schüssel, a faithful conservative and deeply religious man with the mission to reshape Austria in a neo-liberal way, nevertheless saw the FPÖ as the best path of success in his reforms.
The new government was installed on February 28 with Wolfgang Schüssel as Chancellor. FPÖ’s Herbert Haupt became Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Social Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner returned as Foreign Minister, and as Minister of Finance returned Karl-Heinz Grasser. In the latter case, with the difference that he was now partyless after leaving FPÖ at the beginning of the year after various screen savers with, above all, the party’s gray eminence Jörg Haider. In the government, on the post of State Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs, came Ursula Haubner, older sister to Jörg Haider. Prior to the end of the year, she had advanced to chair the FPÖ, and in the post of Vice-Chancellor, Herbert Haupt was replaced by Infrastructure Minister Hubert Gorbach (FPÖ).
According to Countryaah.com, Austria Independence Day is October 26. The Historian Commission, which for four years has been investigating the confiscations of property and assets made during the Austrian Nazi era (1938-45) and to what extent they have been returned and replaced, concluded in its 14,000 pages that Austria regarding economic compensation to the victims of Nazism in the country “only acted half-heartedly and relatively slowly”. A new chapter in Austria’s Nazi past opened up as the relationship between the Habsburg family and Hitler began to be examined more closely.
Scandal politician Strache’s comeback comes off
Former FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache fails to make a political comeback when his new party does not win any seats in the local elections in the capital Vienna. Strache was Deputy Chancellor of the former FPÖ-ÖVP government before he was forced to resign due to the so-called Ibiza scandal (see 20 May 2019). The scandal led to Strache being forced to leave the FPÖ and he is running in the local elections for his new party team HC Strache, which, however, only wins 3 percent and thus does not enter the city council. The Social Democrats will be the largest party with 42 percent of the vote.
Corona restrictions are reintroduced
The number of people infected with the coronavirus for the first time amounts to more than 1,200 infected in one day. Austria escaped the worst of the pandemic this spring by shutting down society in March and April. During the summer, some restrictions were lifted, but now that the infection has spread again, it has become mandatory to wear mouth guards and restrictions for crowds have been reintroduced.
Prosecutors are investigating an outbreak of coronavirus in a ski resort
At least 6,000 cases of covid-19 are linked to the spread of coronavirus in March in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl. Visitors from about 40 countries, including Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, were infected at the ski resort. Prosecutors are now investigating whether any crime has been committed in connection with the infection of humans. People who have fallen ill claim that the ski resort was closed too late and that many became infected due to incorrect handling of transports from the resort in connection with the return journey.
The Empire of 1804–67
Austria’s involvement in the third coalition war led to new setbacks: Napoleon entered Vienna and won a decisive victory over Russians and Austrians in the so-called three-tribe battle at Austerlitz on December 2, 1805. In the peace in Pressburg (Bratislava) the same year, Austria was forced to leave Venice, Istria and Dalmatia to the newly founded kingdom of Napoleon Italy and Tyrol and Vorarlberg to Bavaria but instead received the secular archbishopric of Salzburg. An Austrian outbreak of the Napoleonic system in 1809 ended just as unhappily. Following the defeat at Wagram, Austria was forced to strike a hard peace in Schönbrunn, whereby the country was excluded from the Adriatic by Trieste and Fiume (Rijeka) resigned.
Foreign policy was reoriented under Klemens von Metternich’s direction in a French-friendly direction, which was marked by the marriage between Napoleon and the Habsburg empress daughter Marie-Louise. However, after France’s defeat in Russia, Austria once again switched sides, forming in 1813 with Britain, Russia, Prussia and Sweden the coalition that finally crushed Napoleon. Austria’s strong position was evident from the fact that the Peace Congress of 1814–15 was placed in Vienna, where Europe’s map was redrawn. Austria regained most of its lost possessions (except Belgium and Luxembourg, which united with the Netherlands to the Kingdom of the Netherlands) and gained a dominant position in Germany and Italy.
As a leader in the reactionary superpower federation organized in conjunction with the Vienna Congress, Austria, under Metternich’s leadership, arose over the status quo in both international relations and internal states. Within the country there was a strictly conservative regime, with police rule and centrally controlled bureaucracy. In the face of liberal Europe, Metternich and his system emerged as the embodied reaction, the arch-enemy of all reformist and national liberation movements.
When the dams finally broke in the spring of 1848, Austria was thrown into a serious crisis. In Vienna, violent riots forced Metternich on the run, riots followed in Bohemia, Hungary and northern Italy. Emperor Ferdinand I abdicated and succeeded by his 18-year-old nephew Frans Josef. By skillfully playing out rival nationalities against each other, the regime succeeded in quelling the uprising and restoring a bureaucratic and clerical order of society.
Austria had been able to cope with the crisis greatly thanks to Russia’s support – the Hungarian uprising could only have been defeated by Russian military aid. So much more fatal was it that Austria’s Western-friendly neutrality during the Crimean War caused a break with Russia and left Austria alone against France and Sardinia in a war in 1859. The result was the defeat of Magenta and Solferino and the loss of Lombardy and the hegemony of Italy, whose unifying Austria forced accept.
Also in the final battle with Prussia for the future of Germany, Austria managed to find itself without superpower support. In 1864 it joined Prussia’s side in a victorious war against Denmark, but disputes over the robbery, Schleswig-Holstein, and the hegemony within Germany led to the German unit war in 1866, which ended with Austrian defeat. Austria was forced to accept the dissolution of the German Confederation and accept that the ties were cut off between Austria and the German state, which was now reorganized under Prussian leadership. At the same time, Venice was lost to Prussia’s ally Italy, despite Austrian military victories at Custoza and Lissa.
Thus, as Austria was forced out of its German and Italian spheres of interest, the kingdom’s emphasis shifted eastward to the areas inhabited by slaves and Magyars. The relationship with Hungary was regulated in 1867 through the so-called compromise, Ausgleich. The kingdom was divided into two equal monarchies, Austria and Hungary, each with its own constitution, government and parliament, but with the Habsburg monarch as emperor and king, and with common foreign, defense and (to some extent) fiscal policy.