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Austria: A New Grand Coalition Formed



October 1, 2008

New Key Players in Coalition Parties 

Following the September 2008 national elections, leaders of Austria´s Social Democratic Party (SPÖ)and the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) agreed to form a new grand coalition. SPÖ leader Werner Faymann will serve as Chancellor and ÖVP leader Josef Pröll will be Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister of the next Austrian government. The new key players stressed their will to avoid the bickering that paralyzed the previous coalition. The coalition will embark on a program of tax cuts and economic stimulus measures to combat the country's economic slowdown.

A new National Council (First Chamber of Parliament) was also elected and will remain a coalition of five parties: the majority coalition parties SPÖ and ÖVP, as well as the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Greens. The SPÖ and ÖVP lost a combined 14% of the vote over the last election to the FPÖ and ÖVP, and the Greens recorded minor losses. Faymann´s SPÖ held its number one status with 29% of the votes, and the ÖVP, which had called for early elections, ranked second at 26% of the votes, a loss of 8%.