Austria. Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger resigned in August after a bitter dispute over the fiscal policy of the government coalition. Spindelegger also left the post as leader of the bourgeois People’s Party (ÖVP).
The contradictions included proposals to introduce inheritance tax and a “millionaire’s tax” for the really rich – something Spindelegger thought would lead to increased indebtedness and still constitute “a drop in the sea”. Austria had the EU’s lowest unemployment rate – around 5% – and a manageable budget deficit, but government debt was expected to reach 80% of GDP during the year.
According to Countryaah.com, Austria population in 2020 is estimated at 9,006,409. Spindelegger’s departure showed the fragility of the government coalition between the ÖVP and the Social Democratic SPÖ, but the Social Democratic Chancellor Werner Faymann said that the coalition would hold until the 2018 elections.
In November, the police conducted a comprehensive raid against radical Islamists in several cities. Around 900 police officers participated in the attacks against housing and mosques. Fourteen people were arrested, eight of whom were detained. The effort was aimed at people recruiting young people to fight for Islamist groups. Around 160 Austrians were estimated to have traveled to Iraq and Syria.
In 1932, Engelbert Dollfuss’ Christian-Social Government tried to reverse the situation, which led to confrontations with the Social Democrats and the Nazis. The first rebelled and were banned while the Nazis murdered Dolfuss in 1934 during a failed coup.
Under the guise of the internal crisis and the government’s weakness, German troops invaded Austria in 1938, without facing opposition from the European superpowers. A referendum in the same year in “enlarged” Germany revealed that more than 99% of the German population were supporters of Hitler.
Following Hitler’s defeat in 1945, Austria was divided into 4 zones, occupied by troops from the United States, France, England and the Soviet Union. In the November election, the Conservative 85 and the Social Democrats achieved 76 of the parliament’s 165 seats.
The Austrian economy improved with the assistance of the UN and the United States, from the latter in the form of the Marshall Aid. The heavy industry and banks were nationalized in 1946. Inflation was controlled through price and wage agreements.
Conservatives and socialists jointly led the Second Austrian Republic. Austria first gained full independence in 1955, with the entry into force of the State Agreement and the withdrawal of Allied forces. The government coalition remained in power until 1966, when the People’s Party alone formed government.
In post-war Austria did not participate in military alliance formation. During the Cold War, Austria practiced a particularly liberal refugee policy, enabling large numbers of political refugees to be received from Poland, and Austria became a transit country for emigrating Soviet Jews.
Austria joined the UN in 1955 and became a member of the Council of Europe in 1956. From that time Austrian foreign policy has changed course, partly because of the conflict with Italy regarding Tyrol, (Bolzano) – a conflict that found its solution in 1969 – and partly with the country’s accession to the EU.
In 1958 Austria was admitted as a member of EFTA and at the same time signed an agreement with the EU and with the countries of COMECON.
The Socialist Party, SPÖ, won a dismal victory in 1970 and formed a minority government led by Bruno Kreisky. In the 1971 and 1975 elections, SPÖ won an absolute majority and became a government monopoly, thanks to economic stability and moderate social reform.
The Austrian Government was invited to attend the Alliance Free Nations meetings and served as a liaison between the PLO and Western Europe. Vienna strongly condemned the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.