Austria budget deficit unites parties

ADRIAN BRIDGE

Central Europe Correspondent

After a row lasting more than six months - and one election later - Austria's two main parties kissed and made up yesterday with the announcement that, for the fourth time in succession, they would renew their left-right coalition government.

A relieved Franz Vranitzky, who remains chancellor, hailed the agreement between his Social Democrats (SPO) and the conservative People's Party (OVP) as a triumph for common sense and compromise. Wolfgang Schussel, the OVP leader and deputy chancellor, described it as "good news for Austria".

At the centre of the new agreement is a tough package of austerity measures designed to cut 100 billion schillings (pounds 6.5bn) from the country's spiralling budget deficit over the next two years.

In a bid to show they mean business, the coalition partners said they planned to cut two ministerial posts and reduce the number of state secretaries.

It was disagreement over how to reduce the budget deficit that caused the break-up last autumn of the last SPO-OVP coalition after less than one year in office. Although the SPO emerged strengthened from the December election that followed, the new cost-cutting economic policy bears the firm imprint of the OVP, which even flirted with the idea of throwing in its lot with Jorg Haider's extreme-right Freedom Party to ensure it got its way.

As part of the austerity package, designed to bring Austria into line with the Maastricht criteria for joining the single European currency, 10,000 civil service posts are to be axed by the end of next year, generous maternity leave payments are to be slashed and students up to the age of 27 will no longer be able to travel for free on public transport.

In a country that has got used to an astonishing degree of welfare cushioning, the prospect of the cuts has already provoked protests from trade unions, pensioners and students, thousands of whom this week teamed up with their university professors in declaring an indefinite strike.

Many Austrians, however, have recognised that, with the opening of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and entry into the European Union last year, the days of jobs for life and early retirement were destined to come to an end. "We have no option but blood, sweat and tears," said Anneliese Rohrer, political editor of the daily Die Presse.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living