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Austrian coalition talks stall over jetfighters

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Austrian coalition talks stall over jetfighters


Austria’s Acting Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has announced his People’s Party has broken off coalition talks with its main centre-left rival. The Social Democrats had voted during parliament’s inaugural session on Monday, to set up a panel to investigate the previous government’s purchase of jet fighters worth two-billion euros. Schuessel says good faith negotiations are now no longer possible.

“We too want to find out the exact costs of cancelling the purchase of the fighters,” he said. “Everybody is entitled to know. We do not hide, we do not threaten, we want to know ourselves.”

President Heinz Fischer will now have to find a solution that will avoid fresh elections. The Social Democrats narrowly won a ballot earlier this month, but failed to secure a majority in Parliament. Both parties risk losses to smaller parties if Austrians go to the polls again.

Analysts say voters want a grand coalition and stability. But Schuessel says there’ll be no alliance, as long as parties are massing against him on the jet fighter issue. The Social Democrats argue that the purchase of the planes by Schuessel’s previous government was too expensive and they want to know how the decision was made to acquire them.

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