Conservative figures have secured important posts in the new left-right coalition in Austria, including that of foreign minister. They take over the foreign ministry after Ursula Plassnik, who resigned as Vienna’s top diplomat over plans for a referendum on European policy, and the right will also control Austria’s finances. The Conservative leader Josef Proell will be finance minister as well as vice-chancellor, despite his party trailing its Social Democrat partners in the polls. “We have laid the foundations of government, and work starts now on the three major issues facing the government: solving the economic crisis, boosting the economy, and helping the people,” said Proell. The new coalition hopes to avoid the internal bickering that paralysed the outgoing government.