Austria. In mid-March, the lawsuit began against Josef
Fritzl, who was revealed almost a year earlier to have held
his own daughter in prison for 24 years. According to
countryaah, the daughter had
given birth to seven children, six of whom survived and
three spent their entire lives trapped in the basement. Fritzl was prosecuted for rape, incest, slavery and murder.
During the trial, he pleaded guilty on all counts, and was
sentenced to life in a forensic psychiatric ward.
The right-wing populist party BZÖ made a record choice in
the state of Carinthia in March. The party received 45
percent of the vote. The result was partly interpreted as a
tribute to the party's founder and strong man Jörg Haider,
who died in a car accident a few months before the election.
But it was also seen as a sign of a crisis in the Social
Democratic SPÖ, which lost close to 10 percentage points in
voter support, largely to BZÖ. SPÖ also lost ground in the
election in Salzburg, which was held at the same time,
although the party there remained the largest, and in the EU
elections in June. In the state elections in Vorarlberg and
Upper Austria in September, support for the SPÖ was record
low. In both cases, the xenophobic FPÖ - which BZÖ was
formed - progressed strongly, even though the conservative
ÖVP remained the largest. The Social Democrats' large
electoral losses made it difficult for SPÖ leader Werner
In 1978, the government lost a referendum on building a
nuclear power plant, but the SPÖ maintained its backing for
the prime minister and cemented its power monopoly in the
elections in 1979. Kreisky resigned after 1983, when the SPÖ
lost the majority. In a coalition with the Liberal Party,
FPÖ, SPÖ continued its social policy and active neutrality.
The governor of the northern province of Carinthia, Jörg
Haider, the leader of the ultra-nationalist liberal party,
FPÖ, was ousted in 1991 for praising employment policy in
the Third Reich. In the municipal elections in November
1991, following a campaign in which he accused foreigners
living in Austria of "stealing" jobs from the Austrians, FPÖ
gained 22.6% of the vote, thus becoming the second largest
political party in Vienna.
After increasingly powerful attacks against the aliens,
the government in 1992 passed a law banning neonazi
activities. In May, ÖVP's Thomas Klestil was elected
president with almost 57% of the vote, following Waldheim's
decision not to stand for re-election. It thus set the stage
for 6 years of international isolation of Austria, due to
Waldheim's Nazi past.
The changes that took place in Europe had significant
consequences for the Austrian economy. The reunification of
the two Germans, for example, led to a deficit in the
Austrian trade balance in the first years.
In 1993, Haider intensified his xenophobic attitudes,
citing "uncontrolled" immigration, the rise in crime and
unemployment. In February 200,000 people attended a
demonstration in the streets of Vienna, facing racism. An
attempt by Haider to reduce the number of foreigners and cut
their rights did not achieve enough votes to be adopted.
In a referendum in 1994, the Austrians decided to join
the EU; a decision which, theoretically, was not a violation
of the Constitution's words on the country's neutrality. At
the local elections in March, FPÖ again improved its
election results. In the October parliamentary elections,
Haider's party gained 23% of the vote, while SPÖ lost 7%, to
now 35% and ÖVP lost 4%, to about 28%.
The increase in the number of foreigners residing in
Austria - around 300,000 in mid-1994 - coincided with new
terrorist attacks on immigrants. Haider officially condemned
this type of activity, but in a book printed in large print,
Hans Henning Scharsach pointed out the similarities between
Haider and Hitler, who were "likewise populist". The
increase in connection with Haider took place, while in
Austria there was a discussion about Austrian
co-responsibility during World War II.