After the euphoria of election victory, and the confirmation of final results, it is down to business for Austria’s Social Democrats’ leader, Alfred Gusenbauer. President Heinz Fischer is expected to ask him to form a government today and formal talks are anticipated with the People’s Party of Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel on the formation of a coalition government. The country’s two main parties are seen as the only viable partners in a future government.
One cabinet member hoping to hold onto his job is Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser. He is now an independent. His former far-right colleagues in Jorg Haider’s populist Alliance for Austria’s Future have little chance of figuring in any coalition talks, having just scraped into parliament with seven seats.
Both the Greens and the far right Freedom Party have 21 seats in the 183 member parliament, too few to be considered as possible partners for either of the big parties. Talks between Gusenbauer and Schuessel are expected to be difficult and fresh elections have not been ruled out.