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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 16:37 GMT
Austrian far-right makes comeback
President Thomas Klestil and Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel
President Klestil (l) wished the government success
A new Austrian Government has been sworn in, reviving a coalition between the People's Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

A coalition of the same two parties collapsed last September prompting Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to call a snap election.

His People's Party, which won 42% of the vote in the November poll, took more than three months to find a partner.

It first attempted to do a deal with the Social Democrats and the Greens, but disagreed on matters such as privatisation and taxation.

President Thomas Klestil wished the new government "every success, in the interests of the Austrian republic".

Joerg Haider
Joerg Haider will always be there
Mathias Reichold
Former Freedom Party minister
The last government fell apart as a result of a feud inside the Freedom Party between its founder, Joerg Haider, and its ministers in government.

The BBC's Bethany Bell in Vienna says there is widespread scepticism about the chances of this government proving any more stable than the last.

She says Mr Haider, who is not expected to be a member of the government, has already raised objections to key coalition policies.

Less influence

In November's snap election there was a surge of support for the People's Party headed by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, but a sharp drop in the vote for the Freedom Party.

Foreign Affairs - Benita Ferrero-Waldner (OVP)
Finance - Karl-Heinz Grasser (independent)
Economics - Martin Bartenstein (OVP)
Defence - Guenther Platter (OVP)
Interior - Ernst Strasser (OVP)
Justice - Dieter Boehmdorfer (FPO)
Education - Elisabeth Gehrer (OVP)
Josef Proell (OVP)
Infrastructure - Hubert Gorbach (FPO)
Sport - Karl Schweizer (FPO)
Health, women's rights - Maria Rauch-Kallat (OVP)
It polled only 10% - a loss of almost two-thirds of its voters since its great success in 1999.

Correspondents say the Freedom Party will wield less influence in the new government than in the last one.

It will have only three full ministerial posts, compared with six in the last government.

Party leader Herbert Haupt will take over as vice-chancellor from Susanne Reiss-Passer, the former leader and one of the ministers who resigned in September precipitating the crisis.

Karl Heinz Grasser, another Freedom Party member who resigned from government and from his party, has been re-instated as a Finance Minister.

Haider presence

The news in 1999 that the Freedom Party would be part of the governing coalition prompted Austria's EU partners to impose diplomatic sanctions.

To help defuse the row, Mr Haider stayed out of the coalition government.

He has since resigned from the leadership of the party, saying he wishes to concentrate on his duties as governor of the southern province of Carinthia.

However, one former senior party official said he would still make his presence felt.

"Joerg Haider will always be there," former Infrastructure Minister Mathias Reichold told the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Haider's sister, Ursula Haubner, will join the government as deputy minister.

The politician who cries wolf
26 Nov 02 |  Europe
Haider withdraws offer to quit
26 Nov 02 |  Europe
Austria political map redrawn
25 Nov 02 |  Europe
Taming Austria's far right
25 Nov 02 |  Europe
Joerg Haider's fall from grace
25 Nov 02 |  Europe
European press review
25 Nov 02 |  Europe

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