Austria

.. balance of private and public enterprise. All the basic industries were nationalized in 1946; these included all oil production and refining; the largest commercial banks; and the principal companies in river and air transportation, railroad equipment, electric machinery and appliances, mining, iron, steel, and chemical manufacturing, and natural-gas and electric power production. Government control was reduced through lack of efforts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, allowing for the sale of shares in many nationalized companies to private investors. Austria has maintained close ties with the countries of Eastern Europe. Since the collapse of communism in those countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, more than 1000 Western companies have chosen Austria as their base for new Eastern European operations.

Of the total land area, about 17 percent is considered suitable for cultivation. Meadows and pastures constitute about 24 percent of the total land area, and market gardens and vineyards account for slightly more than 1 percent. About half of Austrian farms are under 25 acres in size. Major products in the early 1990s were wheat,barley,maize, grapes, potatoes, sugar beets, apples, and rye. Austrias farms satisfy most of the food needs of the country, and some surpluses such as dairy products are exported. Annual milk production was about 870 million gallons. Livestock included 3.7 million pigs, 2.4 million, 312,000 sheep, and 61,400 horses. Executive power is exercised by the president of the republic, who is elected by popular vote every six years, and by the Council of Ministers, which is headed by a chancellor, appointed by the president for a term not exceeding four years. Suffrage is universal for citizens 19 years of age and older.

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Federal legislative power is vested principally in the Nationalrat (National Council), or lower house of the bicameral Federal Assembly. The Nationalrat is composed of 183 members elected for four-year terms by popular vote according to proportional representation. The cabinet may remain in office only so long as it enjoys the confidence of the Nationalrat. The Bundesrat (Federal Council), the upper house, consists of 64 members chosen by the provincial legislatures in proportion to population for terms ranging from four to six years, depending on the length of terms of the provincial legislatures they represent. Although the powers of the Bundesrat are primarily advisory, the council can delay passage of the bills. Each of the nine provinces has a unicameral legislature elected on the same basis as the Nationalrat.

The legislature chooses a provincial governor. All legislation must be submitted by the governor to the federal ministry for approval. The provincial legislature, however, may override a ministry veto by majority vote. Cities and villages are administered by elected communal councils, which in turn elect mayors, or burgomasters.The legal system is based on the division between legislative, administrative, and judicial power. There are three supreme courts: the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, and the Supreme Judicial Court. The judicial courts include 4 higher provincial courts, 17 provincial and district courts, and about 200 local courts.

The constitutional court deals with matters affecting the countrys constitution, and examines the legality of administration and legislation. The administrative court deals with matters affecting the legality of administration. The new Socialist chancellor, Fred Sinowatz, formed a coalition with the Freedom Party; however, the alliance collapsed in 1986 when the Freedom Party took a sharp turn to the right under its new leader, Jrg Haider. Mismanagement and layoffs in the public sector coupled with controversy over privatization fueled discontent with the government, the Socialists, and the political patronage system. The presidential election in 1986 was won by the Peoples Party candidate, Kurt Waldheim, former secretary general of the United Nations, despite allegations that he had lied about his actions in the German army during World War II. The vote reflected the ambiguous attitude of many Austrians toward their countrys Nazi past.

After parliamentary elections in November, Chancellor Sinowatz resigned and Franz Vranitzky, another Socialist, took office, forming a coalition with the Peoples Party. His government had to deal with continuing cutbacks in the public sector, high budget deficits, and international unease over Waldheims election. The coalition survived the elections of October 1990, but lost seats to the right-wing Freedom Party. In 1991 Waldheim announced that he would not seek reelection the following year, and the Socialist Party changed its name to the Social Democratic Party. Thomas Klestil, a career diplomat and former ambassador to the United States, was elected president in 1992, partly on the promise to press forward Austrias application to join the European Union (EU).

In 1994, five years after it was first submitted, Austrias application to join the EU was endorsed by the European Parliament and approved by Austrian voters in a nationwide referendum. The country officially joined the EU on January 1, 1995. In the mid-1990s a number of violent incidents against minorities occurred in Austria, including numerous letter bombings. Underground extremist right-wing groups claimed responsibility for the attacks, heightening fears of a resurgent neo-Nazi movement in the country and spawning large public protests against the persecution of minorities. In the October 1994 parliamentary election, the ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the Peoples Party retained a legislative majority but lost 23 seats.

It was the worst showing by the coalition since 1945, reflecting rising dissatisfaction with the governments direction. The Freedom Party, which advocated greater restrictions on Austrias ethnic minorities, continued to make gains, winning a total of 42 seats in the Nationalrat. In October 1995 the ruling coalition collapsed over a budget dispute. In December the Social Democratic Party won elections once again, and in March 1996 it reunited with the Peoples Party to form a new government. By late 1996 Haidars right-wing Freedom Party had increased in popularity.

An outspoken opponent of immigration and the EU, Haidar won support among working-class Austrians by arguing that both posed dangerous threats to Austrian jobs. He also tapped into a growing dissatisfaction among Austrians over budgetary cuts designed to meet EU criteria for participation in a common European currency by 1999. In January 1997 Vranitzky resigned as chancellor and leader of Austrias Social Democratic Party. He designated Finance Minister Viktor Klima as his successor. Bibliography sources: www.ask.com, www.

britannica.com, www.australia.