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Knowledge > The first ÖVP-FPÖ coalition: its establishment, the EU-14 "measures", the turbulences 

August 1999
In the course of the electoral campaign, ÖVP-leader Wolfgang Schüssel announces his decision to go into the opposition in case of a third place result at the electoral outcome.

National Council vote - the ÖVP follows the FPÖ by 415 votes as third party in the country:

SPÖ: 1,532.448, 33,2% of the casted votes; 65 seats
ÖVP: 1,243.672, 26,9% of the casted votes, 52 seats
FPÖ: 1,244.087, 26,9%, of the casted votes 52 seats
LIF: 168.612, 3,7% of the casted votes, 0 seats
Die Grünen: 342.260, 7,4% of the casted votes, 14 seats
KPÖ: 22.016, 0,5% of the casted votes, 0 seats

The Federal President Thomas Klestil asks the SPÖ chairman Viktor Klima to conduct talks with the ÖVP, the FPÖ and the Greens as regards the content of a possible government program.

The ÖVP seats at the opposition.

The Austrian Member of the European Commission Franz Fischler objects against his party´s choice of siding with the opposition and expresses the „serious concerns“ of Brussels as for a possible inclusion of Haider in the new government.

The SPÖ declares that a new partnership with the ÖVP is a priority.

27.10. - 3.12.1999
Talks among parties on the possible formation of a government.

The Federal Chancellor Viktor Klima informs the Federal President of the talks.

The Federal President Klestil appoints Klima for the formation of a government.

The ÖVP executive decides to take part in government´s negotiations.

Negotiations beween the SPÖ and the ÖVP begin.

The FPÖ presents an alternative government plan.

20./ 21.1.2000
Government negotiations fail on the ground of the rumours of a parallel negotiation between the ÖVP and the FPÖ, because of the resistance of the SP-labour union and because of the  ÖVP demands for the appointment to the finance department, opposed by the SPÖ. The ÖVP also request the participation of the representatives of the labour unions to the negotiations. Metal workers´ labour union representative Rudolf Nürnberger refuses to sign the pact.  

President Klestil gives Klima once more the task of building a government, even if only a minority government.

FPÖ and ÖVP decide, without being appointed, to take over the government formation.

Chancellor Viktor Klima fails again to form a government.

FPÖ and ÖVP may unite in a coalition pact. President Klestil expresses himself against such coalition. The Portuguese EU presidency announces bilateral „measures“ against the Austrian government in case of a FPÖ participation to a governmental force. The 14 EU States speak openly against such coalition in a declaration.

The ÖVP presents a motion for a collective declaration against the European criticism. The SPÖ refuses to support such motion.

The EU Commission presents a declaration on the concerns of the European States. The Austrian Presidential office sanctions a preamble presenting the ÖVP-FPÖ plan as an attempt to silence the European criticism.

President Klestil tries to limit the damage by requesting the EU States to treat Austria as equal partner in the International Community. Klestil refuses the appointment of two ministers from the ranks of the FPÖ: the FPÖ chairman Hilmar Kabas, inelegible on the grounds of a racist electoral campaign, and the FPÖ economics responsible Thomas Prinzhorn, due to harsh verbal externations.

The Black-Blue government is created. Its members proceed to official acts, while thousands of demonstrants protest against the Schüssel-Haider coalition. The bilateral „measures“ of the EU-14 against Austria enter into force by freezing the diplomatic bilateral relationship on a Ministerial and Presidential level.  

“Declaration: Responsibility for Austria - A Future in the Heart of Europe”. The new government posts an announcement on the “International Herald Tribune” containing an English translation of the Preamble of the black-blue coalition´s agreement, signed by Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and the FPÖ Leader Jörg Haider under presidential request.

In his declaration, Chancellor Schüssel talks about the suspension of bilateral contacts with Austria; he declared himself shocked by the speed, the harshness and the extent of the „measures“, calling for a re-thinking of such approach that according to him, would not find any place in the spirit and mission of the European mandate.

Big demonstration against the Black-Blue government. In Vienna, 150.000 (Police esteems) to 250.000 (organizators esteems) people protest on the streets. The writer Doron Rabinovici at the end of the demonstration remarks in his speech the need to demonstrate for the sake of the democracy.

19/20. 2.2000
Message from Austria to all International Herald Tribune Readers. On the "www.undergroundresistance.org", published on the "International Herald Tribune", on the peaceful demostrations in Austria against the new „moderate“ right government.

Jörg Haider announces his withdrawal as leader of the FPÖ.

Resignation of the Ministry of Justice Krüger. Successor is Dieter Böhmdorfer, lawyer of Jörg Haider.

At the EU summit in Lisbon, Chancellor Schüssel calls for a stop of the sanctions against Austria.

A delegation of the European popular party (EPP) wants to draw a picture of Austria and present a report by June. The ÖVP withdraws its membership from the EPP. Fellow parties in the EPP discuss a request of exclusion of the ÖVP from the group.

Middle April 2000
Haider announces his idea to subject the EU-14 Measures to a public opinion poll.

Susanne Riess-Passer is the new leader of the FPÖ.

The ÖVP-FPÖ government releases an action programme. One of the 18 points calls for a public opinion poll on the “measures” to be held in Autumn 2000.

At an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers at the Azores, the measures against Austria are being disussed. The Austrian Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner (ÖVP) suggests the idea of a „Weisenrat“, an expert´s board, as possible exit solution and calls for the suspension of the sanctions.

The proposal of an experts´ board is considered by the FPÖ Parlamentarian Peter Westenthaler totally out of question (Salzburger Nachrichten, 9. September 2000).

Wolfgang Schüssel in a letter to the EU collegues calls for the abolition of the measures in time for the EU summit in Feira (19.-20.6.2000).

Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner is sceptic as regards the observation of Austria by a team of European personalities; she suggests the EU Commission to write a report on the development of Austria from the Governmen formation.

The EPP acknowledges that since the creation of the government, Austria has not undergone any deprivation in its democratic system and therefore invites the ÖVP back into its ranks.

The solution Austria hoped for at the EU summit in Feira did not take place, but Portugal announces a new initiative.

The portuguese chairman Antonio Guterres contacted the president of the Europan Court of Human Rights Luzius Wildhaber to choose three individuals to put in charge of the experts´ board. The approval of Wildhaber depends on the consent of Austria to the inquiry.

ÖGB demonstration against the budget programme of the government.

Luzius Wildhaber declares himself ready to appoint the team for the reporting. These „three experts” should investigate the management of minorities, refugees and immigrants by the govenrment, as well as observe the nature and development of the FPÖ. The 14 EU member States link the abolishing of sanctions to a positive outcome of the report. Schüssel is sceptical but approves the plan. The deputy chancellor Riess-passer (FPÖ) refuses the cooperation with the reporting commission.

The Austrian government declares the public opinion poll dependant on the issuance of the report by the commission.

Luzius Wildhaber announces the names of the three personalities: Martti Ahtisaari, former Finnish President and Chairmen of the „Weisenrat“, Jochen Frowein, Constitutional jurist from the BRD and Marcelino Oreja, former Spanish Foreign Minister.

First consultation from the office of the Finnish former president in Helsinki. The commission announces a trip to Vienna to substantiate the work of the board. They have to check the „committment of the Austrian government to the European values, above all those concerning the minorities, refugees and immigrants, as well as the development of the political nature of the FPÖ“.  

Visit of the three experts in Austra to meet the President, the representatives of the govenrment, the leaders of the political parties as well as the representatives of the different intstitutions.

FPÖ Parlamentarian Peter Westenthaler demands a new meeting with the former FPÖ leader Jörg Haider with the Experts, as a necessary step to render the report truly complete and reflecting of the Austrian situation.

The three experts move to Heidelberg to write their report. The work is interrutped on the 2th August to meet with NGO, the Vice Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer. The meetng with the Carinthian governor Jörg Haider is refused.

The report of the experts is handed over to the French President and EU Concil Chairman Jacques Chirac at the Elysee in Paris.

The French President calls off the Measures, as recommended in the report.

At the Styrian vote, the ÖVP wins (+ 11%) over the FPÖ (-4,7%). Haider threatens a new round of voting.

Resignation of the Social Minister Sickl; the follower is Herbert Haupt.

Resignation of Infrastructure Minister Schmid, Monika Forstinger takes his place.

Vote in Burgenland. Victory of the SPÖ, FPÖ loses 1,9, the ÖVP 0,7%.

Demonstration against one year of „Black-Blue“.

Severe FPÖ defeat at the Viennese city council vote (-7,8%). The SPÖ reaches the absolute majority.

Susanne Riess-Passer threatens her resignation after the defeat on the grounds of internal criticism.

The results of the ÖGB strike ballot against the social policy of the government are presented: about 88% consider it necessary to walkout.

Schüssel and the Czech Prime Minister Zeman unite on a compromise on the Temelin conflict.

915.220 Austrians sign the Anti-Temelin popular petition of the FPÖ, which demands to subject the entry of Czech Republic in the European Union in order to block the AKW Temelin. The ÖVP refuses the veto.

Demonstrations against 2 years of „Black and Blue“.

Haider visits Iraq and meets Saddam Hussein without notifying the Foreing Minister nor the Vice Chancellor Riess-Passer  

After harsh criticism, Haider announces his withdrawal from federal political life.

The FPÖ executive gives Susanne Riess-Passer a comprehensive power; Jörg Haider exits the coalition board.

Resignation of the Infrastructure Miniser Forstinger. The successor is Matthais Reichold.

New vote for Susanne Riess-Passer. Haider campaigns for her.

Jörg Haider meets with representatives of the Belgian Vlamms, as well as the Italian Lega Nord. Susanne Riess Passer is not informed.

The Council of Ministers postpones on the grounds of the flood catastrophe, the 2003 planned taxes reform. Jörg Haider does not accept the postponing and his supporters gather votes for a special party conference, that the Vice Chancllor Riess-Passer opposes by threatening her resignation. The internal conflicts of the FPÖ intensify.

Haider announces his will not to support the FPÖ in the electoral campaign.

Coordinated press conference of Haider and Riess-Passer; Haider describes her as an „unsullied lamb“.

After the party conference of the FPÖ in Knittelfeld in which priority was given to the announced tax reform, the party came to a de facto settlement with the government policies, and the three government members, the Vice Chancellor Riess-Passer, the Financial Minister Grasser and the Parlamentarian Westehthaler declare their resignation.

Chancellor Schüssel announces a new vote at the end of November 2002 (24th November). Also the Infrastructure Minister Reichhold announces his resignations. Chaos reigns in the FPÖ, with a wave of resignations of its members; the party is looking for a new leadership.

Matthias Reichhold becomes the new spokeperson for the FPÖ. The social mnister Haupt should as announced one week earlier become the new candidate for the forthcoming national council vote.  

Matthias Reihhold resignates due to health reasons and leaves the seat of FPÖ chairman. Herbert Haupt takes his place.

Haupt makes it clear: should the FPÖ fall under 15% in the elections, it would move to the opposition side.

At the National Council vote, the FPÖ suffers a significant drop in consensus (-16,90), the ÖVP (+15,39) becomes on the other hand the strongest party; SPÖ (+3,36) and GRÜNE (+2,07) benefit from a moderate consensus:

ÖVP: 2.076.831, 42,30% of the casted votes, 79 seats
SPÖ: 1.792.499, 36,51% of the casted votes, 69 seats
FPÖ: 491.328 voters, 10,01% of the casted votes, 18 seats
GRÜNE: 465.021 voters, 9,47% of the casted votes, 17 seats
KPÖ: 27.567 0,56% of the casted votes, no seat
LIF: 48.085 voters, 0,98% of the casted vote, no seat
Die Demokraten: 2.439 voters 0,05% of the casted votes, no seat

President Thomas Klestil gives the ÖVP chairman Wolfgang Schüssel the task of forming a government.

Beginning of the inquiry talks with the SPÖ.

Beginning of the talks with the FPÖ.  

First round of talks of the ÖVP with the Greens.

ÖVP and FPÖ build 4 sub-groups.

The Grünen end the talks wih ÖVP.

The new Parliament is formed.

Das SPÖ presidency allows new talks.

Schüssel presents a 10-point plan for the negotiations.

ÖVP and SPÖ arrange talks in 6 sub-groups.

21.1. 2003
The SPÖ presidency gives green light to coalition negotiations.  

After the closing of the first round of talks between the ÖVP and the SPÖ, Schüssel declares the need to speak again with the FPÖ and the Grünen.

ÖVP and Grüne agree on the new talks. The SPÖ presented its 12 points.

The widened federal boards of the Grünen is in favour of further coalition negotiations.

The black-green talks fail.

Federal President Klestil urges Schüssel to come to a decision as soon as possible.

Schüssel and Gusenbauer arrange intensive talks. The FPÖ presidency demands exclusive talks with the ÖVP.  

The ÖVP decides to undertake coalition negotiations with the FPÖ.

The new ÖVP-FPÖ government vows. During the negotiations, governor Haider criticized the „victory rush“ of the ÖVP and warned the FPÖ not to become the "billige Jakob" of the ÖVP.

Der Standard, 9./10.9.2000, S. 9; Salzburger Nachrichten, 9.9.2000, S. 3; Der Standard, 13.9.2000; Der Standrad, 9.9.2002, Der Standard, 19.9.2002, 1.11.2002,21.2.2003, 6.2.2003, 1.3.2003

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