Austria. In February, a year had passed since the
newly-appointed government was quarantined by the EU. It was
dissolved in a fog cloud in October, and after a year in
government, the coalition between the Conservative People's
Party ÖVP and the right-wing populist FPÖ could see the
future with some confidence.
After the first year in power, the government, under the
leadership of the ÖVP's Wolfgang Schüssel, was able to reap
praise for political renewal, while the FPÖ's previously so
successful leader Jörg Haider worked frantically without
much political success to get back into the limelight. But
both Haider and the new leaders in the party he made with
such success to the country's second largest in the 1999
election increasingly realized that for FPÖ there was only
one thing to do if the party did not strongly decline in the
opinion polls: stay in the government and contribute to the
success of the blue-black coalition.
In March, this was even clearer if possible. At the local
elections that were held in Vienna, FPÖ went back big.
party lost a quarter of its voters. Instead, for the Social
Democrats (SPÖ), the election went so well that the party
gained its own majority in the capital. It was interpreted
as a powerful popular protest against the blue-black
Austrian government. Instead, the government chose to
officially interpret the election result as a local matter
During the year, the government continued the
privatization previously initiated. The telecommunications
sector was exposed to competition and the gas and
electricity markets were opened to competition before other
At the end of the summer, FPÖ's profile issues received a
proposal for a severely limited immigration to the country.
The party also learned that the country should wait until
2007 before a possible eastward enlargement of the EU will
have an impact on the free movement of labor.
Perhaps the most important issue for the future during
the year was the crucial social partnership, ie Austrian
political life. that the country's economic policy was, in
practice, determined by the Austrian LO, the employers, the
Chamber of Commerce and the farmers' union, got such a
serious thorn that it can be difficult to restore it in the
At the end of the year, Jörg Haider obtained a referendum
in the country to be held in early 2002 for or against the
demand that the Czech nuclear power plant in Temelin be
closed. If it became a success for Haider, it would probably
push Austria towards a new isolation within the EU,
something the FPÖ has long strived for.