Most Austrians are Catholics and a minority are Protestants. The immigration of recent decades has increased the proportion of Muslims and Orthodox Christians.
Christianity reached the area that is now Austria in the 300s. When the Protestant Reformation spread across Europe in the 16th century, as a counter-movement to Catholicism, it initially had success among the Austrians. But the Protestants were forced back in the 17th century during the Catholic Church’s counter-offensive. The system of a state church was abolished in 1848, when religious freedom was also introduced.
Today, a majority of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. A few percent are Protestants. The proportion of Muslims and members of Orthodox churches has increased through immigration. A quarter of the residents profess a different religion or have no religious affiliation at all.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Austria, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Colonel is suspected of spying on Russia
Austrian authorities announce that a retired colonel is suspected of spying on Russia since the 1990s. The suspicions lead to Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl canceling a planned trip to Moscow. Kneissl was rewritten in media around the world when she danced with Russian President Vladimir Putin during her wedding in August 2018. The usually relatively good relations between the two countries are strained because of the spy accusations.
FPÖ minister passes a vote of no confidence
After it was discovered that the Ministry of the Interior had given controversial instructions to the police regarding contacts with the media, a vote was held in Parliament on the confidence of Interior Minister Herbert Kickl. He passes the vote with the support of the MPC and FPÖ members who are in the majority in Parliament. The scandal erupts since Austrian media had published guidelines from a spokesperson at the Ministry of the Interior where cooperation with certain media would be limited. Kickl takes away from these instructions, but he is positive that the spokesperson also emphasized that the nationality of suspected perpetrators should be stated in reporting on crime.
New party leader for SPÖ
Former Health Minister Pamela Rendi-Wagner becomes new leader of the opposition party SPÖ after former Chancellor Christian Kern. He announced a few days ago that he would resign. Rendi-Wagner becomes the first female leader of the SPÖ.
Migration issues are given priority when Austria takes over as EU President
Austria takes over the EU presidency for the next six months under the motto: “a Europe that protects”. The issue of migration seems to be high on the agenda. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz advocates that migration to EU countries should be reduced by strengthening the Union’s surveillance of the Union’s external borders. Other issues that Kurz says he wants to prioritize during the presidency are ways to ensure the EU’s continued competitiveness, good relations with the countries of the Western Balkans and an expanded dialogue with Russia. EU statistics show that the number of migrants / asylum seekers applying to the Union has decreased dramatically compared to 2015. So far in 2018, around 51,000 people have arrived.
Several mosques are closed
The government announces that seven mosques will be closed and several imams will be expelled because they are reported to have received funding from foreign powers. Dozens of Imams are being investigated for links to Turkish nationalists and radical Islamism.
Increased border cooperation with Germany
Austrian and German police in the German state of Bavaria will cooperate more on the control of the common border. Even in the Brenner Pass in the Alps, connecting Italy and Austria, the two countries’ police forces will cooperate more. The purpose is to improve law enforcement and prevent illegal immigration. Migrants who enter the country illegally often hide in wagons on freight trains passing through the Brenner Pass.
Austria does not participate in EU expulsion of Russian diplomats
The Austrian government announces that it supports the decision to withdraw the EU ambassador to Russia, but that Austria itself will not expel any Russian diplomats. The reason is that the government wants to keep communication open with Russia and maintain its role as a bridge builder between East and West. E tt 20 countries, mainly in Europe, has expelled over 100 Russian diplomats, including 60 from the United States, after a nerve poison attack on a Russian former spy and his daughter in the UK in early March. The British government accuses Russia of being behind the attack.
Settlement between Strache and program manager at ORF
the 13th of March
News anchor Armin Wolf withdraws a lawsuit against Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache. He had pointed out Wolf and ORF in a Facebook post to spread lies and fake news (see February). After that, Wolf chose to sue Strache for defamation while ORF proceeded with its own legal process against Strache. Strache and Wolf have now reached their own settlement after Strache promised to publish an apology in Kronen Zeitung and on his Facebook page and to pay € 10,000 in compensation – money that Wolf will give to a think-tank that examines right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi groups.
Victory for SPÖ in Carinthia
4th of March
In the state elections in Carinthia, SPÖ gets 17 seats, FPÖ 9 and ÖVP 7. The local party Team Kärnten comes in fourth place with 3 seats.
ÖVP remains the largest in Tyrol
In the Tyrol state election, the ruling party ÖVP wins 44 percent of the vote. The party gets 17 seats, while the SPÖ gets 6 seats, FPÖ 5 and the Greens 4.
FPÖ attacks media
Austrian media and the Austrian industry organization for journalists and newspaper publishers express strong concern after the FPÖ government criticized various media and individual journalists in various ways. For example, FPÖ’s leader and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache have posted a pretense ad on Facebook for the public service company ORF, which says “A place where lies become news”. ORF files a lawsuit against Strache after his actions.
A songbook with Nazi sympathies creates political concern
A political scandal erupts since it was discovered that a nationalist student union, Germania zu Wiener Neustadt, has a songbook with lyrics that pay tribute to German Nazism and the Holocaust. FPÖ politician Udo Landbauer is vice-chairman of the association. The scandal also puts pressure on Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who formed a government with FPÖ. The government declares shortly thereafter that the student union will be dissolved and Udo Landbauer leaves the FPÖ.
Civil OVP wins in Lower Austria
The ÖVP receives almost half of the votes in the Lower Austria state and 29 seats in the state parliament, while the Social Democrats (SPÖ) becomes the second largest with close to a quarter of the vote and 13 seats. FPÖ gets 8 seats in parliament in Lower Austria.
Demonstrations against the new right-wing government
At least 20,000 people are demonstrating in Vienna against the coalition government between the ÖVP and the FPÖ, which they believe represents a racist, right-wing extremist policy.