Austria has made itself known for its work peace. The basis for this is the consultation between the government and the social partners that takes place within the framework of the so-called social partnership.
The only trade union central organization is the Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (ÖGB), which organizes both private and public employees. ÖGB has no ties to any political party, but there are political groups within the organization. The largest is linked to the Social Democratic SPÖ, but there is also an influential Christian group with ties to the conservative OVP. The share of trade union organizations has decreased over a long period of years and now amounts to just over one in four employees. However, all employees are affiliated with an employee organization called a chamber. Employers are similarly connected to a chamber. In addition, there is an employer organization, IV.
Austria had long been Europe’s lowest unemployment rate but in 2014 the country lost that investment and a few years later record high unemployment of over 6 per cent, the highest level since the Second World War.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Austria, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
One reason for the rising unemployment was the increased supply of labor that immigrant EU citizens were responsible for. In connection with the EU enlargement in 2004, Austria introduced transitional provisions which meant that residents of the new Member States of Eastern and Central Europe were given free access to the Austrian labor market only in 2011. For Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, which became members later, the restrictions on 2014 applied and 2015. In the last year of the 2010s, unemployment declined again.
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
4.6 percent (2019)
8.7 percent (2019)
The boundary fence is proposed
Interior Minister Johanna Miki-Leitner proposes that a fence be built to prevent migrants from entering the country. Chancellor Werner Faymann, however, does not want to agree to this.
The refugee crisis is causing tensions between Austria and Germany. The German government criticizes the Austrian for allowing refugees to cross the border into German Bavaria.
Vienna state elections
Opinion polls point in advance to a breakthrough loss in Vienna for the Social Democrats who have ruled the capital since 1945. In the end, the result will not be such a big disaster, even SPÖ backs about 5 percentage points to just over 39 percent and FPÖ increases roughly as much to 31 percent. The mayor and governor (the post is combined in Vienna) Michael Häupl who has been in office since 1994 remains.
State elections in Upper Austria
FPÖ wins over 31 percent of the vote in the state elections, cutting the SPÖ to a third place. However, CDU retained its lead with just over 35 percent of the vote. The ongoing European refugee crisis is believed to have contributed to the FPÖ’s election success.
Refugees are let through
In light of the acute refugee crisis in Hungary (see Hungary: Calendar), Austria temporarily opens the border between the countries during the first weekend of the month to release thousands of refugees, most of them en route to Germany. Between 10,000 and 20,000 migrants then pass through Austria. Only a few, fewer than 100, are said to have applied for asylum in the country. Over the next few days, up to 3,000 refugees continue to cross the border and the number of passengers on trains passing between Hungary and Austria becomes so large that train connections have to be closed. A few days later, after Germany temporarily introduced passport and visa checks at the border, the government announces that it will follow Germany’s example.
Dead refugees in truck
In a truck near the border with Hungary, 71 dead people are found, including 4 children. They are believed to be migrants who have died of oxygen deficiency in the truck.
State elections in Burgenland and Styria
FPÖ is making strong progress in two contemporary state elections in eastern Austria. In Burgenland, traditionally a strong social-democratic stronghold, the result is that the SPÖ forms a government with the FPÖ, even though the party has centrally decided not to enter into any coalition cooperation with the right-wing party. In Styria, FPÖ receives nearly 27 percent voter support, at a couple of percentage points when as much as ÖVP and SPÖ. However, the latter two agree to form a coalition and close the right-wing populists out.
Big tax reform
The government decides on a substantial reduction in income taxes.
New Islamic law
Parliament adopts a new version of the 1912 Law that regulates Islam’s position in Austria. The law, which was originally created to guarantee the rights of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the then Austro-Hungarian empire, has as a major new feature that prohibiting Muslim associations from receiving foreign financial support. In addition, all mosques must use an authorized German translation of the Qur’an. The vast majority of Austrian Muslims, about 6 percent of the country’s population, have Turkish roots. Many imams operating in Austria are posted and paid by the Turkish Religious Affairs Agency, Diyanet. No Christian or Jewish congregations in Austria are prohibited from receiving foreign funding.
Protest against the extreme right
Several thousand people demonstrate at an annual ball organized by the FPÖ in Vienna. Handguns occur between police and protesters and 54 people are arrested.