The Info List - Wolfgang Schüssel

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Wolfgang Schüssel
Wolfgang Schüssel
(German pronunciation: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ ˈʃʏsəl]; born 7 June 1945) is an Austrian People's Party
Austrian People's Party
politician. He was Chancellor of Austria
Chancellor of Austria
for two consecutive terms from February 2000 to January 2007. While being recognised as a rare example of an active reformer in contemporary Austrian politics, his governments were also highly controversial from the beginning, starting with the fact that he formed a coalition government with Jörg Haider's Freedom Party of Austria
(FPÖ) on both occasions. In 2011, he retired from being an active member of parliament due to a multitude of charges of corruption against members of his governments.


1 Early life, education, and start in politics 2 Minister in the "Grand Coalition" 3 Chancellor of Austria

3.1 The Schüssel I government

3.1.1 The "EU Sanctions"

3.2 The Schüssel II government 3.3 President of the European Council, 2006

4 Chairman of the ÖVP Parliamentary Group, 2006–2008 5 Policies 6 Life after politics

6.1 Corporate boards 6.2 Non-profits

7 Honours and awards 8 References 9 External links

Early life, education, and start in politics[edit] Born in Vienna, Schüssel attended that city's Schottengymnasium, a well known Roman Catholic gymnasium for boys, where he took his Matura exams in 1963. He went on to study at the University of Vienna, receiving a Doctorate in Law in 1968. Schüssel was secretary of the parliamentary group of the Austrian People's Party from 1968 to 1975. From 1975 to 1991, he was Secretary General of the Austrian Business Federation, a sub-organization of the Austrian People's Party. Minister in the "Grand Coalition"[edit] He became Minister for Economic Affairs on 24 April 1989 in a coalition government under Chancellor Franz Vranitzky
Franz Vranitzky
(SPÖ) formed by the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). On 22 April 1995, at the 30th Party Congress of the ÖVP, Schüssel staged a leadership coup and ousted Erhard Busek
Erhard Busek
as chairman of the Austrian People's Party. He also replaced the party’s ministers in the governing coalition.[1] On 4 May 1995, Schüssel replaced Busek as Vice-Chancellor in Franz Vranitzky's fourth government, and also took over as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He held the same posts in Chancellor Vranitzky's fifth Cabinet, as well as the first cabinet of Chancellor Viktor Klima's (SPÖ). Chancellor of Austria[edit] The Schüssel I government[edit] In the 1999 election, Schüssel's ÖVP finished third, trailing Jörg Haider's Freedom Party (FPÖ) by 415 votes. After a series of talks to renew the grand coalition with the SPÖ failed after several months, Schüssel reached an agreement with the Freedom Party. In the normal course of events, FPÖ leader Jörg Haider
Jörg Haider
should have become chancellor, with Schüssel remaining as vice-chancellor. However, when it became apparent that Haider was too controversial to serve in the government, let alone lead it, Schüssel was sworn in as chancellor on 4 February 2000. His government was the first in 30 years that was not headed by the SPÖ. The government headed by Schüssel was – in its beginnings – probably the most controversial since 1945, which to a large extent was due to the presence of the populist right-wing FPÖ. Although Haider was never a member of Schüssel's government, his participation raised widespread criticism, both inside and outside of Austria. Between 2000 and 2002 there were weekly Donnerstagsdemonstrationen (Thursday Demonstrations) through the city and the inner districts of Vienna. The coalition with the Austrian Freedom Party
Austrian Freedom Party
and various policies aiming at achieving the much-maligned Nulldefizit (zero budget deficit) were the main points of criticism. The "EU Sanctions"[edit] In an attempt to pressure Schüssel's democratically elected government into submission, the heads of the governments of the other 14 EU members decided to cease co-operation with the Austrian government, as it was felt in many countries that the cordon sanitaire against coalitions with parties considered as right-wing extremists, which had mostly held in Western Europe since 1945, had been breached. Because nothing in the legal framework of the European Union supported an official measure, informal (and officially non-existent) "sanctions" were imposed by mutual consent. For several months, other national leaders (most of all France's president Jacques Chirac, Germany's chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and leading Belgian politicians) ostracised the members of the Schüssel government, refusing basic social interaction and keeping unavoidable contacts to the legally required minimum. Government supporters often blamed the opposition Social Democrats and President Thomas Klestil
Thomas Klestil
for the so-called "sanctions" imposed by the EU14 and their loyalty to the country was thus put into question. Indeed, the UK's mass circulation paper The Guardian
The Guardian
had reported during the decisive days of Schüssel's negotiations that "Austria's caretaker chancellor, Viktor Klima, urged fellow EU leaders to help influence the coalition bargaining," and that as a result "diplomats said that while an EU meeting was unlikely on constitutional grounds, the issue could be discussed by leaders of the Socialist International."[2] Schüssel's ÖVP had been a member of all governments from 1945 to 1970 and from 1986 onwards, but had never been completely excluded from power (even though its influence was considerably reduced during Bruno Kreisky's era) because the tradition of social partnership meant that representatives of all major interest groups in the country would be consulted before any policy was enacted. When Schüssel came into power, he broke with that tradition, which many Austrians had considered an unwritten part of the constitution, to be able to rapidly implement reforms that he felt to be necessary. Government supporters claimed this to be the true reason for the demonstrations and for the so-called "sanctions". The organised unfriendliness carried on for months while both the Austrian government (and – behind the scenes – also the EU-14) sought a solution for the untenable situation. Because the "sanctions" were only a means of coordinated diplomatic behaviour and not founded in the EU-Charter, EU-law did not provide a way out. After a couple of months a delegation of three experts (die drei EU-Weisen) was sent to Austria
to examine the political situation and to determine if the EU-14's "sanctions" could be lifted. Their report did not find reasons that would permit the other EU-members according to then existing EU-law to engage in further measures going beyond those that are allowed in international law. However, the more important conclusion the report draw was that a framework for exactly these kind of situations should be implemented and incorporated into EU-law. This subsequently happened with the Treaty of Nice
Treaty of Nice
in 2001. Following the report, the EU leaders tacitly returned to normality during the summer of 2000 even though the Austrian government remained unchanged, allowing the center-right parties to claim a sort of "victory". Though the "sanctions" did little material damage, their psychological effect was lasting and profound. In Austria, they essentially ended the broad popular support which the European Union had initially enjoyed in the country. In the populations of some EU member states, the frequently highly manipulative media coverage of the affair reinforced simmering anti-Austrian prejudices that dated back many decades, or even to World War I. The Schüssel II government[edit] By the summer of 2002, a series of setbacks at local and regional elections had resulted in considerable internal strife in the FPÖ, which was instigated by Haider and some of his closest allies. When the leading proponents of the more pragmatic wing of this party, Vice-Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer
Susanne Riess-Passer
and Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, announced their resignation, Schüssel broke the coalition and announced a snap general election for November 2002. The People's Party won a smashing victory, taking 79 seats to become the largest party in the National Council for the first time since 1966. However, after negotiating for months with both the SPÖ and the Green Party, Schüssel decided to renew his coalition government with the Freedom Party, which had been reduced to a mere 10 percent of the vote. On 28 February 2003 he was sworn in as Chancellor again, heading the second Schüssel government,[3] this time with the confidence of having won the elections. In April 2005, the FPÖ effectively split into two parties. The bulk of the FPÖ—including Haider, the FPÖ cabinet ministers and most of the FPÖ parliamentary caucus—broke off to form the Alliance for the Future of Austria
(BZÖ), while the party base in most states remained with the old party. In spite of this change in the nature of his coalition partner, Schüssel continued the coalition until the end of the current legislative period (see Austrian legislative election, 2006). However, after the election Schüssel mentioned that a coalition with Haider's party or the Freedom Party would not be reasonable. Following the death of Liese Prokop
Liese Prokop
on 31 December 2006, Schüssel was sworn in as interior minister on 2 January 2007, and served in this additional post until a new government was formed,[4] which occurred on 11 January. President of the European Council, 2006[edit] Austria
succeeded the United Kingdom in holding the European Council Presidency on 1 January 2006. In the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Schüssel promised to lead the European Union "Hand in Hand" with Germany, and Merkel promised that Germany would do everything to "help" Austria
during its presidency and make it a success. Schüssel also stated that Austria
needed "some friends of the presidency". This led to Brussels diplomats describing the Austrian presidency as "the small German presidency", according to French newspaper Le Figaro. Chairman of the ÖVP Parliamentary Group, 2006–2008[edit] Following the 2006 election, Schüssel became Chairman of the ÖVP Parliamentary Group. He announced after the September 2008 election that he would continue to sit in parliament only as a backbencher; Josef Pröll
Josef Pröll
was to replace him as Chairman of the ÖVP Parliamentary Group. In addition to his parliamentary work, Schüssel served on the Commission of Eminent Persons on The Role of the IAEA
to 2020 and Beyond, chaired by Ernesto Zedillo, whose report Reinforcing the Global Nuclear Order for Peace and Prosperity was launched in June 2008. In 2011, Schüssel retired from parliament due to massive charges of corruption against members of the governments led by him. Policies[edit] The government's attempts at achieving a balanced budget (called "Nulldefizit") – while being more successful than most of its contemporary initiatives abroad – failed. Changes involved a mixture of raising taxes and fees on the one hand and cost-cutting measures on the other which proved highly visible and prompted significant criticism. For example, the Austrian education system suffered considerably, shown by the PISA
study released in 2004: many salaries and expensive projects were cut at universities, even though the government proclaimed it would bring teaching and research to a "world-class" level. Cost-cutting in the security sector was blamed for an increase in crime. At the same time, Schüssel's government increased public spending in certain areas. For example, the new "Kindergeld" (children money) to help families replaced the old "Karenzgeld", which was dependent on the recipient standing in employment. This change was a nod to the Freedom Party, which had campaigned for this measure. The decision to replace the old Draken fighter planes of the Bundesheer with 18 Eurofighters (originally 24 were ordered, this number was reduced after the 2002 floods) was seen as waste of money by the opposition, most of all because of the attempts to save money in almost every area of the public administration. The government's arguments for this was that the Austrian State Treaty, according to which Austria
needs to be able to defend herself, is to be read to imply that Austria
must be in complete control of her air space. The opposition argued that this goal could have been reached in a much cheaper way. Starting from around 2030, the unfavorable structure of the population pyramid had been forecast create a ratio of active to retired workers of 1:1. Schüssel's pension reform made provision for this in the reduction of future pensions and raising of the retirement age. Schüssel's reform of the Austrian pension system is more broad-sweeping and thus more likely to be effective than all previous reforms in this area combined. Demographics experts insisted that it ideally should have gone further,[citation needed] whereas the SPÖ and the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB) protested heavily and argued that the pension losses, limited by Schüssel to 10% and later reduced to 5%, were excessive.[citation needed] Such measures laid the groundwork for later military reform and pension reform. Mandatory military service
Mandatory military service
to reduce to six months or even its abolition. From 2005 onwards, corporate tax was cut to 25% to stimulate investment and economic growth. This was an example of harmonization toward neighbouring taxes as recent EU and Schengen area member Slovakia
had consistently lower tax rates. However, critics argued that such a tax advantage for firms was unfair to many sole traders. Life after politics[edit] Since his retirement from Austrian politics, Schüssel has held paid and unpaid positions, including the following: Corporate boards[edit]

Investcorp, Member of the European Advisory Board (since 2011) RWE, Member of the Supervisory Board (since 2010)[5] Deutsche Vermögensberatung
Deutsche Vermögensberatung
(DVAG), Member of the Advisory Board[6]


Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (since 2015)[7] United Europe, President (since 2013) World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
(WEF), Member of the Global Agenda Council on Public Finance and Social Protection Systems[8] DER Dialog Europe-Russia, Member of the Board (since 2011) Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria
(ÖAGVN), President (since 2008) Bertelsmann Foundation, Member of the Board of Trustees (since 2007)[9] Allensbach Institute, Member of the Board of Trustees[10] Broader European Leadership Agenda (BELA), Member of the Advisory Board[11] Gesellschaft für Außenpolitik, Member of the International Advisory Board Austrian Society for China Studies (ÖGCF), Member of the Presidium European Council on Foreign Relations
European Council on Foreign Relations
(ECFR), Member European Policy Centre
European Policy Centre
(EPC), Program Chair "European Politics and Institutions"[12] Global Leadership Foundation, Member

Honours and awards[edit]

7 July 1995: Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic[13] 1996: Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit 8 June 2000: Grand Cross with Diamonds of the Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein[14] 2004: Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania 2006: Grand Cross of Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary 20 January 2006: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland ("for outstanding achievements in the development of Polish-Austrian cooperation, for their involvement in activities on behalf of those affected by the Third Reich") 2007: Order of Merit of Baden-Württemberg 2007: Bavarian Order of Merit Honorary Citizen of Tirana, Albania.


^ Top drawer European Voice, 22 July 1998. ^ EU leaders urged to keep Haider out. The Guardian, 29 January 2000. Archived ^ "New government coalition formed in Austria". KUNA. 1 March 2003. Retrieved 16 October 2013.  ^ "Austria's chancellor sworn in as temporary interior minister", Associated Press (IHT), 2 January 2007. ^ RWE
holt Reizfigur Schüssel Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24 February 2010. ^ Advisory Board Deutsche Vermögensberatung
Deutsche Vermögensberatung
(DVAG). ^ Wolfgang Schüssel
Wolfgang Schüssel
zum Vorsitzenden des Kuratoriums der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung gewählt Konrad Adenauer Foundation, press release of 12 October 2015. ^ Global Fiscal Systems: From Crisis to Sustainability World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Public Finance and Social Protection Systems, May 2016. ^ Wolfgang Schüssel
Wolfgang Schüssel
in das Kuratorium der Bertelsmann Stiftung berufen Bertelsmann Foundation, press release of 19 April 2007. ^ Board of Trustees Allensbach Institute. ^ Advisory Board Broader European Leadership Agenda (BELA). ^ European Politics and Institutions European Policy Centre
European Policy Centre
(EPC). ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado ^ eliechtensteinensia

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wolfgang Schüssel.

Biography, contact details and speeches since 1996 of Wolfgang Schüssel at the Parliament of Austria
(German) ÖVP site for Klubobmann Wolfgang Schüssel
Wolfgang Schüssel
(in German)

Political offices

Preceded by Robert Graf Minister for Economic Affairs 1989–1995 Succeeded by Johannes Ditz

Preceded by Alois Mock Minister of Foreign Affairs 1995–2000 Succeeded by Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Preceded by Erhard Busek Vice-Chancellor of Austria 1995–2000 Succeeded by Susanne Riess-Passer

Preceded by Viktor Klima Chancellor of Austria 2000–2007 Succeeded by Alfred Gusenbauer

Preceded by Tony Blair President of the European Council 2006 Succeeded by Matti Vanhanen

Party political offices

Preceded by Erhard Busek Leader of the People's Party 1995–2007 Succeeded by Wilhelm Molterer

v t e

Chancellors of Austria

First Republic

Karl Renner Michael Mayr Johann Schober Walter Breisky
Walter Breisky
(acting) Johann Schober Ignaz Seipel Rudolf Ramek Ignaz Seipel Ernst Streeruwitz Johann Schober Carl Vaugoin Otto Ender Karl Buresch Engelbert Dollfuss Kurt Schuschnigg Arthur Seyss-Inquart

Second Republic

Karl Renner Leopold Figl Julius Raab Alfons Gorbach Josef Klaus Bruno Kreisky Fred Sinowatz Franz Vranitzky Viktor Klima Wolfgang Schüssel Alfred Gusenbauer Werner Faymann Reinhold Mitterlehner
Reinhold Mitterlehner
(acting) Christian Kern Sebastian Kurz

v t e

Vice-Chancellors of Austria

First Republic

Jodok Fink Ferdinand Hanusch Eduard Heinl Walter Breisky Felix Frank Leopold Waber Franz Dinghofer Karl Hartleb Vinzenz Schumy Carl Vaugoin Richard Schmitz Johann Schober Franz Winkler Emil Fey Ernst Rüdiger Starhemberg Eduard Baar-Baarenfels Ludwig Hülgerth Edmund Glaise-Horstenau

Second Republic

Adolf Schärf Bruno Pittermann Fritz Bock Hermann Withalm Rudolf Häuser Hannes Androsch Fred Sinowatz Norbert Steger Alois Mock Josef Riegler Erhard Busek Wolfgang Schüssel Susanne Riess-Passer Herbert Haupt Hubert Gorbach Wilhelm Molterer Josef Pröll Michael Spindelegger Reinhold Mitterlehner Wolfgang Brandstetter Heinz-Christian Strache

v t e

Foreign Ministers of Austria

First Austrian Republic

Victor Adler Otto Bauer Karl Renner Michael Mayr Johann Schober Walter Breisky Leopold Hennet Alfred Grünberger Heinrich Mataja Rudolf Ramek Ignaz Seipel Ernst Streeruwitz Johann Schober Ignaz Seipel Johann Schober Karl Buresch Engelbert Dollfuß Stephan Tauschitz Egon Berger-Waldenegg Kurt Schuschnigg Guido Schmidt Wilhelm Wolf

Second Austrian Republic

Karl Gruber Leopold Figl Bruno Kreisky Lujo Tončić-Sorinj Kurt Waldheim Rudolf Kirchschläger Erich Bielka Willibald Pahr Erwin Lanc Leopold Gratz Peter Jankowitsch Alois Mock Wolfgang Schüssel Benita Ferrero-Waldner Ursula Plassnik Michael Spindelegger Sebastian Kurz Karin Kneissl

v t e

Party Chairmen of the ÖVP

Leopold Figl Julius Raab Alfons Gorbach Josef Klaus Hermann Withalm Karl Schleinzer Josef Taus Alois Mock Josef Riegler Erhard Busek Wolfgang Schüssel Wilhelm Molterer Josef Pröll Michael Spindelegger Reinhold Mitterlehner Sebastian Kurz

v t e

Presidents of the European Council

President-in-Office (1975–2009)

Liam Cosgrave Aldo Moro Gaston Thorn Joop den Uyl James Callaghan Leo Tindemans Anker Jørgensen Helmut Schmidt Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Jack Lynch Francesco Cossiga Charles Haughey Pierre Werner Dries van Agt Margaret Thatcher Wilfried Martens Anker Jørgensen Poul Schlüter Helmut Kohl Andreas Papandreou François Mitterrand Garret FitzGerald Bettino Craxi Jacques Santer Ruud Lubbers Wilfried Martens Felipe González François Mitterrand Giulio Andreotti Ruud Lubbers Aníbal Cavaco Silva John Major Poul Nyrup Rasmussen Jean-Luc Dehaene Jacques Chirac Felipe González Lamberto Dini Romano Prodi John Bruton Wim Kok Jean-Claude Juncker Tony Blair Viktor Klima Gerhard Schröder Paavo Lipponen António Guterres Jacques Chirac Göran Persson Guy Verhofstadt José María Aznar
José María Aznar
López Anders Fogh Rasmussen Costas Simitis Silvio Berlusconi Bertie Ahern Jan Peter Balkenende Jean-Claude Juncker Tony Blair Wolfgang Schüssel Matti Vanhanen Angela Merkel José Sócrates Janez Janša Nicolas Sarkozy Mirek Topolánek Jan Fischer Fredrik Reinfeldt

Permanent President (since 2009)

Herman Van Rompuy Donald Tusk

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 13146180 LCCN: n85109175 ISNI: 0000 0001 2208 9104 GND: 12074225X SUDO