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  Politics
New government coalition formed in Austria
01/03/2003   |   12:51 PM | World News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
New government coalition formed in Austria VIENNA, Mar 1, (KUNA) -- The new Austrian government coalition headed by conservative Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel took constitutional oath in front of President Thomas Klestil, here Friday night.
The new government is considered a comeback of the former coalition which had collapsed last year due to the intervention of right-wing leader Jorg Haider in governmental affairs.
The new government includes 18 officials; eight of them are ministers from the conservative People's Party in addition to an independent minister Karl Hainz Grasser who had resigned from the far-right Freedom Party and three other state ministers.
The Freedom Party, the smaller partner of the coalition has four ministerial seats where its leader Herbert Haupt was appointed as Vice Chancellor and Minister of Social Affairs along with three other ministers from his party including Defense Minister Herbert Scheibner.
From the People's Party, Foreign Minister Beneta Ferrero Waldner, Minister of Economy Martin Bartenstein, Minister of Interior Ernst Strasser and Minister of Education Elizabeth Gehrer have maintained their posts in the new government.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel declared in a press conference following the oath ceremony last night that his government has set a tax reform program that would be carried out through two phases and would cancel early retirement starting next year.
On foreign policy in Europe, the Chancellor described the expansion of the European Union as a historical opportunity of which Austria must make use of, a matter supported by the coalition of the People's Party and the Freedom Party despite what has been said on the reservation of the Freedom Party in this issue. Reports have indicated that the Freedom Party has a set of conditions that restrict the entrance of new members in order to protect job opportunities and security in Austria from the newcomers.
As for the head of the Freedom Party and new Vice Chancellor Herbert Haupt, he said that his party continues to be a stabilizing factor for the government.
The Freedom Party has been criticized for the disputes that have been raised by party member Jorg Haider in the past and by that leading to the collapse of the previous coalition resulting in the call for early elections.
New elections were held last November during which the People's Party won the majority of votes resulting in a major loss for the Freedom Party.
The formation of a new coalition had faced many obstacles and it took Chancellor Schussel three months to find himself an ally. After failing to convince the opposition socialist and green parties to join his government, he had no choice but to turn to his old partner, the rightist Freedom Party, to form the coalition even though the latter had caused the failure of the previous government. (end)
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