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Cablegate: Who's Who in the Gusenbauer Cabinet

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R 231032Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY VIENNA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6033
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 VIENNA 000147

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SUBJECT: Who's Who in the Gusenbauer Cabinet

REFS: A) Vienna 52 B) Vienna 45 and previous

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Summary and Comment
-------------------

1. (SBU) President Heinz Fischer swore in the new Austrian Cabinet
on January 11. The Social Democrats (SPO) and People's Party (OVP)
each 7 ministers and three state secretaries, reflecting the
closeness of the October 2006 election results (SPO with 35.3% and
OVP with 34.3%). On the SPO side, Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer's
team includes several long-time confidants and advisors, including
Women's Minister Doris Bures, Transportation and Infrastructure
Minister Werner Faymann, Justice Minister Maria Berger, Defense
Minister Norbert Darabos, Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry
State Secretary Christa Kranzl, and Finance Ministry State Secretary
Christoph Matznetter. Gusenbauer insisted on a 50% quota for women,
and he also had to ensure sufficient representation of
SPO-controlled states. The SPO list includes experienced
politicians, such as Faymann and Berger, but also colorful
newcomers, such as Education and Art Minister Claudia Schmied and
Social Affairs Minister Erwin Buchinger. Schmied is well connected
in Austrian cultural circles, but she will have to prove herself in
the difficult and complex education agendas. Darabos, who, as a
young man, opted to perform alternative service, rather than to
serve in the military, may face some resistance from military
experts in the MoD.

2. (SBU) The OVP team represents continuity. Foreign Minister
Ursula Plassnik, Economics Minister Martin Bartenstein, and
Agriculture and Environment Minister Josef Proell retained the
positions they held in the outgoing OVP-led government. Interior
Minister Guenther Platter moves over from the defense portfolio.
The former OVP Parliamentary Caucus Leader, Wilhelm Molterer, is the
new Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister. Proell, whom many
commentators tout as a future OVP Chancellor candidate, has taken on
the key task of "coalition coordination" with the SPO. Science
Minister Johannes Hahn and Health Minister Andrea Kdolsky are
newcomers. Hahn, previously head of the Vienna State OVP, will most
likely work to broaden the OVP's appeal to urban, liberal voters.
End Summary and Comment.

3. (U) Following are biographies of Chancellor Gusenbauer,
Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister Molterer, and the Ministers and
State Secretaries in the new government.


Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer (SPO) - NEW
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) During the campaign, Gusenbauer admitted that he has
aspired to be Chancellor since he was a schoolboy. In 2000, after
the resignation of Victor Klima, Gusenbauer became SPO Party
Chairman for what many thought would be an interim period.
Gusenbauer simultaneously assumed the post of Social Democratic
floor leader in Parliament. Following the surprising SPO victory in
the October 2006 elections, Gusenbauer pursued his goal of forming a
government with utmost perseverance. He methodically overcame OVP
reluctance to be his junior partner, making extensive concessions to
the OVP to obtain their consensus to a coalition pact.

5. (SBU) Gusenbauer was born on February 8, 1960 in the Lower
Austrian city of St Poelten. He comes from a blue-collar
background. He holds a Doctorate in Political Science from the
University of Vienna. Gusenbauer has been active in the social
democratic movement since his teenage years. He led the youth wing
of Austria's Social Democrats for six years (1984-1990) and was a
Vice President of the Socialist International in the 1980s.
Gusenbauer served in the Upper House of Parliament from 1991-1993,
before moving over to the more powerful Lower House. Gusenbauer has
been a member of Austria's parliamentary delegation to the Council
of Europe since 1991.

6. (SBU) Gusenbauer is well known for his expertise in
international affairs, especially from his years in the field of
development assistance. Gusenbauer has acquired a solid working
knowledge of macroeconomics and industrial relations, which he
gained in part as a senior research fellow in the Economic Policy
Department of the Chamber of Labor (1990-1999). He also served as
the SPO's finance spokesman in 1999.

7. (SBU) Gusenbauer is part of the "Tuscany Faction" in the SPO,
which also includes influential Vienna Mayor Michael Haeupl. He
speaks fluent English and Spanish, as well as some French, and he is
a wine connoisseur. His common-law spouse, Eva Steiner, is an
interpreter. The couple has a daughter.

VIENNA 00000147 002 OF 006


Vice-Chancellor/Finance Minister Wilhelm Molterer (OVP)
--------------------------------------------- ----------

8. (SBU) Wilhelm Molterer has primarily operated behind the scenes,
closely working with former Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to
coordinate the OVP's parliamentary work and to pave the way toward
implementation of the Schuessel government's projects. Molterer now
moves into the limelight, assuming not only the positions of
Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister, but also that of acting OVP
Party Chairman. At the April OVP party convention, delegates will
most likely confirm him as Party Chairman. However, many
commentators point to Agriculture Minister Josef Proell as the OVP's
most likely chancellor candidate for the 2010 elections.

9. (SBU) Molterer was born May 14, 1955 in Steyr, Upper Austria.
Molterer attended the Johannes Kepler University in Linz from 1974
to 1980, graduating with a Master's Degree in Social Economics.
While at the university he served as president of the student union.
Molterer worked as an assistant in the Agricultural Policy
Department at the University of Linz from late 1979 until February
1981.

10. (SBU) Beginning March 1981, Molterer was head of the Economic
Policy Division of the Austrian Farmers' Federation until the end of
1984. Beginning in January 1985, Molterer worked in the provincial
government of Upper Austria and simultaneously as a municipal
counselor in Sieming. In January 1987 Molterer became chief adviser
to then-Agriculture Minister Josef Riegler. Molterer held the
agricultural market organization portfolio, as well as trade and
trade promotion. In April 1989 he became Chief of Staff to the new
Agriculture Minister, Franz Fischler.

11. (SBU) Molterer served as Secretary General of the VVP from
December 1993 to November 1994. In November 1994, Molterer became
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. He relinquished this post in
2003, when he assumed the position of OVP Parliamentary Floor
Leader. Molterer is well liked among his colleagues and comes
across as a thoughtful, considerate politician. He is married and
has two sons.


Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik (OVP)
--------------------------------------

12. (SBU) Ursula Plassnik's career has been closely linked with OVP
Parliamentary Leader and former Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. She
became his Chief of Staff in 1997, when Schuessel was Foreign
Minister and Vice Chancellor. Serving as Foreign Minister since
2004, Plassnik has gradually crafted a profile as a professional and
expert politician. She was unarguably an asset for the OVP during
the fall 2006 elections. Despite a reputation as somewhat aloof,
Plassnik has established close relationships with many of her
foreign colleagues.

13. (SBU) Plassnik was born on May 23, 1956 in Klagenfurt,
Carinthia. She was a high school exchange student in Foxcroft,
Virginia in 1971-1972. Plassnik holds a Doctorate in Law from the
University of Vienna (1978), and earned a post-graduate diploma from
the Collhge d'Europe in Bruges, Belgium. After her studies,
Plassnik initially worked as a research assistant at the University
of Vienna's Institute for Roman Law and Ancient Legal History. She
then was an intern at a Vienna court, and had an internship in the
legal department of a Vienna bank.

14. (SBU) Plassnik joined the Austrian foreign service in February
1981. She initially served in the MFA's International Law Department
and in the Directorates for Security Policy and the Commission for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Postings abroad included
Bern (1984-86), the CSCE Delegation to the Madrid Follow-up Meeting
(1981-83), the Vienna Follow-up Meeting (1986-87), and to the
Austrian Representation to the Council of Europe (1987-90).

15. (SBU) During sabbatical leave from 1990-1994, Plassnik worked
at the Geneva-based European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
Secretariat. In 1994, she studied at the St. Gallen Foundation for

SIPDIS
International Studies in Switzerland. Plassnik rejoined the MFA in
November 1994, working first in the Directorate-General for Economic
Policy and EU Coordination, later as head of the Directorate for the
General Affairs Council and the European Council.

16. (SBU) Plassnik served as Wolfgang Schuessel's Chief of Staff
from 1997-2003, a period when Schuessel transitioned from Vice
Chancellor to Chancellor. She then became Austrian Ambassador to
Switzerland (January to October 2004), but curtailed when Schuessel
selected her to be Minister of Foreign Affairs. Plassnik is twice
divorced.


VIENNA 00000147 003 OF 006

Defense Minister Norbert Darabos (SPO) - NEW
--------------------------------------------

17. (SBU) Darabos has acquired a reputation as an effective
political operative within the SPO. He successfully organized SPO
campaigns, including the 2000 Burgenland state election and
President Heinz Fischer's successful 2004 run. Darabos was
instrumental in helping Gusenbauer win the October 2006 elections
despite a widely unfavorable political climate for the SPO and
Gusenbauer. Following the election, most analysts pegged Darabos to
become Interior Minister.

18. (SBU) Darabos, with an ethnic Croatian background, was born May
31, 1964 in the state of Burgenland. He comes from a blue-collar
family, attended a Catholic high school in Eisenstadt, and earned a
Master's Degree in History and Political Science from the University
of Vienna.

19. (SBU) Darabos' political career began as head of the Burgenland
chapter of the SPO think tank "Renner Institute" in 1987. From 1991
to 1997 Darabos worked as office manager and press spokesman for the
governor of Burgenland, and then as party manager of the Burgenland
SPO. From 2000 to 2003 Darabos was SPO party whip in the state
parliament of Burgenland. In 2003, Gusenbauer appointed Darabos
national SPO Party Manager. Since June 2004, Darabos has been a
member of the federal parliament. In the 1990s Darabos represented
the SPO on the Viewers' Council of the ORF National Broadcasting
Agency. He was also a representative of the Croatian minority in
the National Minorities Advisory Council.

20. (SBU) Darabos is the first Austrian defense minister who chose
to satisfy his compulsory service requirement through alternative
community service in lieu of military service. His hobbies are
table tennis and soccer. He is president of a local soccer club.
Darabos is married and has two teen-age children. His family still
lives in his hometown of Kroatisch-Minihof, Burgenland.


Interior Minister Guenther Platter (OVP)
---------------------------------------

21. (SBU) Defense Minister in the outgoing government, Platter was
born in Zams, Tyrol, on June 7, 1954. He is a trained printer, but
joined the police force after his military service (1973-1974) and
subsequently served in the Tyrolean towns of Landeck and Imst,
specializing in criminal investigation. In 1986, Platter's
political career began as a municipal councilor in his hometown of
Zams, where he later served as mayor (1989-2000). In 1994, Platter
became an OVP parliamentarian. In this function, he was a member of
the Committees on both Internal and Defense Affairs, and also the
National Defense Council.

22. (SBU) In 2000, Platter became the Deputy Party Chairman of
Tyrolean OVP. He served as a minister in the state government of
Tyrol responsible for sports, culture, schools, employees'
interests, and immigration issues. Since 2001, he has also been
Chairman of the Tyrolean Employees' Association. In February 2003,
Platter joined the second Schuessel cabinet as Minister of Defense.
Commentators have speculated that Platter is the heir-apparent to
the Tyrolean Governor Herwig Van Staa. Platter and his wife have
two sons, aged 16 and 20.


Minister of Economy and Labor Martin Bartenstein (OVP)
--------------------------------------------- ---------

23. (SBU) Martin Bartenstein has held ministerial positions since
1996 when he became Environment Minister. He became Minister of
Economy and Labor in 2000. Bartenstein was born on June 3, 1953, in
Graz, Styria. He holds a Doctorate in Chemistry from the University
of Graz.

24. (SBU) In 1978, Bartenstein joined his family's pharmaceutical
company (Lannacher Heilmittel GmbH) and served as General Manager
from 1980 until 1995. Bartenstein has also worked in the executive
offices of Genericon Pharma GesmbH and Parmavit AG, Budapest.
Bartenstein's political career began in 1991, when he became an OVP
parliamentarian. From 1994 to 1995, he served as Under Secretary in
the Ministry of Public Economy and Transportation, and then
subsequently as Minister of the Environment and Public Economy (1995
- 1996). From 1996 to 2000, Bartenstein was Minister of the
Environment, Youth, and Family Affairs in the SPO-OVP government.
In February 2000, he became Minister of Economy and Labor in the
Schuessel-led OVP-FPO coalition. Since 1992, Bartenstein has also
served as Deputy Chairman of the Styrian OVP, and, since 1992, as
President of "Austrian Children Cancer Aid." He is married and has
five children.


VIENNA 00000147 004 OF 006

Justice Minister Maria Berger (SPO) - NEW
-----------------------------------------

25. (SBU) Berger was born on August 19, 1959, in Upper Austria.
She was head of the SPO youth organization "Young Generation,"
concentrating on justice issues. As a Member of the European
Parliament (MEP) since 1996, she served on the Justice Affairs
Committee, and, most recently, as justice spokeswoman for the
European Social Democrats. Berger's academic career includes
positions as Assistant Professor at Innsbruck University, and
Vice-President of the Lower Austrian Danube University. In her
initial statements as Justice Minister, Berger stressed the need to
take further measures to combat human trafficking, both at the
European and the domestic level, and for more international
cooperation to fight "crime tourism."


Minister for Transportation and Infrastructure Werner Faymann (SPO)
- NEW
--------------------------------------------- --------

26. (SBU) Werner Faymann, previously the Vienna City Councilor for
Housing Construction, was born on May 24, 1960. He was, together
with Gusenbauer, active in the SPO youth organization "Socialist
Youth" in the 1980s. He then shifted to Vienna city politics, and
became a City Councilor in 1994. Faymann has cultivated excellent
contacts with the media. He is married and has two children.


Minister for Agriculture and Environment Josef Proell (OVP)
--------------------------------------------- --------

27. (SBU) Many observers consider Josef Proell, the nephew of
influential Lower Austrian Governor Erwin Proell, as the most
obvious long term successor to Schuessel OVP leader. Apart from his
ministerial position, Proell has also taken on the task of
"coalition coordinator" for the OVP vis-`-vis the SPO.

28. (SBU) Proell was born on September 14, 1968 in the Lower
Austrian city of Stockerau. Proell studied agricultural economics
at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in
Vienna from 1987-1993. From 1993 to 1998, Proell worked at the
regional Chamber of Agriculture in Lower Austria. From 1998 to
2000, he was in charge of economic policy at the Austrian Farmers'
Federation. During this period he also worked as a staffer to OVP
MEP Agnes Schierhuber.
29. (SBU) From January 1999 to August 2000, Proell was Director of
the Vienna chapter of the Austrian Farmers' Federation. He
subsequently became Chief of Staff for then Minister of Agriculture
Wilhelm Molterer. From December 2001 through February 2003, Proell
served as Director of the Austrian Farmers' Federation. In
February 2003, Chancellor Schuessel appointed him Minister of
Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. Proell is
married and has three children.


Minister for Health, Family and Youth Andrea Kdolsky (OVP) - NEW
--------------------------------------------- -------

30. (SBU) Kdolsky, formerly a manager in the Lower Austrian
Hospital Holding Company, is a newcomer to federal politics. She
was born on November 2, 1962 in Vienna. Kdolsky studied Law and
International Trade at Vienna University and the Vienna Business
School respectively. In 1993 she obtained a Doctoral Degree from the
Vienna Medical School. Subsequently, Kdolsky attended a training
program for hospital management and economics at the Vienna Business
School.

31. (SBU) After a year of residence in 1995, Kdolsky began
specializing in anesthesiology, intensive care medicine, and pain
therapy at Vienna's General Hospital. From 2001 to 2004 she was a
senior physician at the respected Vienna University Clinic. Having
worked briefly as a Deputy Manager for the Federal Institute for
International Education and Technology Transfer (BIB), Kdolsky in
2005 moved to the Hospital Holding Company of the state of Lower
Austria, moving up to the position of Manager for Medical Affairs in
March 2006.


Minister for Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection
Erwin Buchinger (SPO) - NEW
--------------------------------------------- ---------

32. (SBU) Political analysts had consistently considered Erwin
Buchinger, formerly Salzburg State Councilor for Social Affairs, as
the top SPO candidate for an economic or social affairs ministerial
portfolio. He is close to Salzburg Governor Gabi Burgstaller. He
served as a social affairs and labor expert to Burgstaller during

VIENNA 00000147 005 OF 006


her successful 2004 campaign, acquiring the nickname "Mr. Labor."
Buchinger was born in 1955 in Mauthausen, Upper Austria, and holds a
Doctorate in Law from the University of Linz, where he also studied
macroeconomics. From 1981 to 1991 Buchinger worked as a law expert
in the Public Employment Agency of the state of Upper Austria.
Subsequently, he became Director of the Employment Office in the
state of Salzburg. In 2004, Buchinger became a member of the
Salzburg state government, where he was responsible for social and
employment affairs. Buchinger is married with two adult children.


Science Minister Johannes Hahn (OVP) - NEW
------------------------------------------

33. (SBU) Hahn is a representative of the OVP's liberal urban wing.
As Vienna OVP Party Chairman since 2003, he attempted to win
voters' support for a more liberal agenda , e.g., calling for a more
consideration of legalizing same-sex relations.

34. (SBU) Hahn was born on December 2, 1957, in Vienna. He holds a
Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Vienna. In the
1980s, Hahn worked for the Association of Austrian Industrialists
(1985 - 1987), the Economic Forum for Business Leaders (1987 -
1989), and held various management positions in the partially
government-owned VA Tech industrial group. In the late 1990s Hahn
worked for Novomatic AG, becoming company CEO in 2003.

35. (SBU) Hahn's political career includes positions as chairman of
the OVP youth wing (1980-1985), Vienna Party Manager (1992 - 1997),
and member of the Vienna Municipal Council since 1996. In November
2003 Hahn became a member of the Vienna state government, and in
2005 OVP Party Chairman in Vienna. He is married with one son.


Minister for Education and Art Claudia Schmied (SPO) - NEW
--------------------------------------------- ----------

36. (SBU) Schmied was born on May 10, 1959. The appointment of
Schmied, a Viennese banker, surprised most political observers.
Schmied has substantial knowledge of art and cultural matters
through various positions on boards of the Salzburg Art Festival and
the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra, but virtually no experience with
education matters.

37. (SBU) After obtaining a business degree, Schmied worked for the
Investcredit Bank. In 1997 she worked as an advisor to then SPO
Finance Minister Rudolf Edlinger. In 1999, she returned to
Investcredit Bank, responsible for international affairs and
expansion into Eastern Europe.


Women's Issues Minister Doris Bures (SPO) - NEW
--------------------------------------------- --

38. (SBU) Bures was born on August 3, 1962. She is one of
Gusenbauer's closest longtime advisors. She has been an SPO MP
since 1990. When Gusenbauer became Party Chairman in 2000, Bures
moved into the position of SPO Party Manager. Despite frequent
criticism of her uninspiring media presence, she remained Party
Manager until Gusenbauer asked her to take on the women's issues
portfolio. The creation of a separate Women's Ministry was a key
objective for the SPO. Bures has a daughter.


State Secretaries
-----------------

MFA State Secretary Hans Winkler (OVP)
--------------------------------------

39. (SBU) Winkler assumed the position of MFA State Secretary in
2005. The GoA established this position primarily to prepare for
and manage the Austrian EU Presidency in the first half of 2006.
Winkler has become an important and well-respected adviser to
Foreign Minister Plassnik, with special focus on EU matters.

40. (SBU) Winkler was born on January 13, 1945 in Vienna. He
earned a Doctorate in Law from the University of Vienna in 1968.
Subsequently, he studied four years at the Diplomatic Academy in
Vienna and entered the Austrian Foreign Service in 1970. After two
years in the MFA's Legal Office, Winkler served in Berlin from 1972
to 1973. From 1973 to 1978, he served in Washington, as well as in
Belgrade and Cairo during much of the 1980s. From 1987 to 1992,
Winkler headed the MFA's International Law Office. From 1992 to
1996, he was Austria's Permanent Representative to the Council of
Europe in Strasbourg. He served as Head of the MFA's Americas
Department from 1996 to 1999, and subsequently the MFA's Legal
Office. During 2002 to 2005, he also served as Deputy Secretary
General in the MFA. In July 2005, he was appointed State Secretary.

VIENNA 00000147 006 OF 006


Winkler is married and has one child.


Finance Ministry State Secretary Christoph Matznetter (SPO) - NEW
--------------------------------------------- --------

41. (SBU) Matznetter played an important role in the coalition
talks on the budget. As SPO spokesman on budget and finance policy,
Matznetter has been a key figure in developing SPO budget policy
positions. He has been a close adviser of Gusenbauer for many
years.

42. (SBU) Matznetter was born on June 8, 1959, in Vienna. He
studied political science, and then became a tax consultant.
Between 1976 and 1980, Matznetter was on the Executive Board of the
Socialist Youth, and in 2000 he became a member of the SPO Executive
Board. In 2002, he entered parliament and became SPO spokesman for
financial and budget affairs. Since June 2005, Matznetter has also
been President of the Social Democrat's entrepreneurs' association.
Matznetter is married with three children.


State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery Heidrun Silhavy (SPO) -
NEW
--------------------------------------------- -----

43. (SBU) Heidrun Silhavy most recently served as the SPO's social
affairs spokeswoman in parliament. From a trade union background,
Silhavy was born on May 20, 1956, in Graz, Styria. She started
working in the Styrian Chamber of Labor in 1976. In 1981, she
became Secretary General of the Styrian women's trade union. In
1994, she moved into the national legislature. She has a son and
two grandchildren.


State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery for Sports Reinhold
Lopatka (OVP) - NEW
--------------------------------------------- ---------

44. (SBU) In the October 2006 elections, Lopatka was the OVP
campaign manager. He led the successful OVP campaign in 2002, after
which he became the OVP's Party Manager. He was born on January 27,
1960, in Vorau, Styria. He obtained a degree in Law and Theology
from Graz University, and then started work in OVP youth politics.
In 1986, Lopatka entered the Styrian state legislature. In 2000, he
became OVP Floor Leader in the Styrian state legislature. He was
also Styrian OVP Party Manager from 1993 to 2001. Lopatka is
married and has three sons. He is an avid marathon runner.


State Secretary in the Ministry of Economy and Labor Christine Marek
(OVP) - NEW
--------------------------------------------- -------

45. (SBU) Christine Marek enters government with a low profile.
With a trade union background, Marek will concentrate on labor
market issues. She was born on January 26, 1968, in Kempten,
Germany and grew up in Upper Austria. She worked for an IT company
and became head of the company's work council. Since May 2000,
Marek has been on the executive board of the Vienna Chamber of
Labor. Marek is also Deputy Chairwoman of the Vienna OVP.


State Secretary in the Infrastructure Ministry Christa Kranzl (SPO)
- NEW
--------------------------------------------- ---------

46. (SBU) Christa Kranzl, previously the Lower Austrian state
Councilor for Social Affairs, was Gusenbauer's high school
classmate. In her position in the Lower Austrian state government,
she covered schools, social administration and consumer protection.
She was born on April 19, 1960. She worked in the
Persenbeug-Gottsdorf city administration from 1978 to 1991, and was
a member of the city government from 1987 to 2005. In 1999, she
became Lower Austrian state Councilor for Social Affairs. She is
married and has two children.
McCAW

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