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The Schüssel Era in Austria

 | 
Günter Bischof
, 
Fritz Plasser

I. Personality and Leadership

The Political Personality of Wolfgang Schüssel

Peter Gerlich

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If you cannot clothe yourself in lionskin use foxpelt.
– Gracian

Introduction

The public image of Wolfgang Schüssel is shrouded in controversy. To some extent, this is not surprising; each and every politician, particularly if still active, has supporters and opponents. But his case seems nevertheless a special one. As federal chancellor, he broke taboos of traditional politics and tried to introduce change to Austrian political culture: for many observers, patterns of far too much consensus were replaced by controversy and even conflict in a quite unprecedented way. Sometimes one had the impression that consociational democracy was not so much replaced by mere political competition — which would have been the generally more accepted mode of democratic rule — but rather, at least as far as public debates were concerned, with something almost approaching civil war. All that was also a consequence of a process of transition which has not only affected the former socialist countries in Ea...

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