Since the parliamentary elections in late 1999, which took place only four months after the last elections to the European Parliament (EP), Austria has undergone profound changes. For the first time in the Second Republic, the People’s Party (OeVP) formed a government with the populist rightwing Freedom Party (FPOe) under their (former) leader Jörg Haider in early 2000. The day after, fourteen EU member states adopted diplomatic measures against the Austrian government. These so-called ‘sanctions’ led to serious tensions between Austria and the other EU member states but also between the government parties and the opposition.1 Only two years later, a crisis concerning the political direction of the Freedom Party occurred that led to the resignation of most of its members in government. In view of this, Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel of the People’s Party called early elections in late 2002 which led to a landslide victory for his People’s Party which won more than 42 per cent (plus 15 percentage points) of the vote. The Freedom Party lost nearly two-thirds of its former voters and secured only 10 per cent of the vote. Nevertheless, the ruling parties decided to prolong their cooperation in government.
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