Austrian People's Party

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The Austrian People's Party is popular mainly amongst white-collar workers, large and small business owners, and farmers. In particular, it is backed by a majority of Austria's civil servants, a remarkably large and influential group due to the size and scope of Austria's government bureaucracy. Austria's blue-collar workers, by comparison, tend to endorse the Social Democratic Party and the Freedom Party. All in all, People's Party supporters are comparatively educated and affluent. As its supporters like to point out, the People's Party enjoys growing popularity with younger voters according to a number of recent public opinion polls.[citation needed]

History

The Austrian People's Party is the successor of the Christian Social Party, a staunchly conservative movement founded in 1893 by Karl Lueger, mayor of Vienna and highly controversial right-wing populist. Most of the members of the Austrian People's party during its founding belonged to the former Fatherland Front, which was led by Engelbert Dollfuss, also a member of the Christian Social Party before the Anschluss. In its present form, the People's Party was established immediately after the restoration of Austria's independence in 1945; it has been represented in both the Federal Assembly ever since. In terms of Federal Assembly seats, the People's Party has consistently been the strongest or second-strongest party; as such, it has led or at least been a partner in most Austria's federal cabinets.

States

At the state level, the People's Party has long dominated the rural states of Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg. It is less popular in the city state of Vienna and in the rural but less strongly Catholic states of Burgenland and Carinthia. In 2004 it lost its plurality in the State of Salzburg, where they kept its result in seats (14) in 2009 and in 2005 in Styria for the first time. All things considered, the People's Party would be near-incontestably dominating Austrian politics if not for the comparatively populous and solidly social democratic metropolis of Vienna.

Federal Government

After the Austrian legislative election, 1999, the People's Party formed in 2000 a coalition government with the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria of its then-leader Jörg Haider. This caused widespread outrage in Europe, and fourteen members of the European Union imposed informal diplomatic sanctions against Austria's federal administration. A few months later, these sanctions were dropped as a result of a fact-finding mission by three former European prime ministers, the so-called "three wise men". In November 2002, general elections resulted in a landslide victory (42.27% of the vote) for the People's Party under the leadership of Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. Haider's Freedom Party, which in 1999 was slightly stronger than Schüssel's party, was reduced to 10.16% of the vote. In the 2006 elections the People's Party were defeated and after much negotiations agreed to become part of a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party of Austria, with new Party Chairman Wilhelm Molterer as Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor under Social Democrat Alfred Gusenbauer, who became Chancellor.

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