Austria is striding towards a coalition government. President Heinz Fischer has met with Social Democrat leader Alfred Gusenbauer today to ask him to form an alliance with the Conservatives. It follows the surprise national election result earlier this month when the centre-left beat the Conservatives by one percent of the vote. Fischer and Gusenbauer spoke for no more than 20 minutes to kick start the coalition talks which the President hopes will lead to the formation of a government before Christmas. He said: “I had good talks with Gusenbauer, the leader of the Social Democrat Party, and I asked him to build a new government or to make some proposals on the forming of a new government according to article 70 of the Austrian constitution.”
Joining forces with Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel’s People’s Party is said to be the only viable option for Gusenbauer. The only alternative, although unlikely, would be a tri-party centre-right alliance between Social Democrats, the Liberal Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria. Talks between the Social Democrats and the Conservatives are likely to be drawn out due to the parties’ differing policies on issues such as taxes and the budget.