On January 9, 2007, the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) agreed on a new coalition government which was sworn in by Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer on January 11, 2007. Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, head of the Social Democratic Party, is Austria’s new Chancellor, succeeding Dr. Wolfgang Schuessel. Chief priorities set by the new government for the 23rd legislative period include further improvement of Austria as a destination for business and the aim of full employment by the year 2010. Other goals are to improve the social and health system and to develop a strategy for combating poverty.
The new government is composed of Federal Chancellor Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, fourteen ministers and six state secretaries. Both the Social Democratic Party as well as the Austrian People’s Party share an equal number of federal ministers and state secretaries. One major change is the division of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture into two separate ministries - the Ministry of Education, Art and Culture and the Ministry of Science and Research. The newly adopted motion for the amendment of the Federal Ministries Act also provides for changing the name of the “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” to the “Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs,” as proposed by Minister Ursula Plassnik.