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Karl-Heinz Grasser (born January 2, 1969) is a former Austrianmarker politician who held the office of Austrian Minister of Finance from February 2000 to January 2007.

Early career

He was born in Klagenfurtmarker, Carinthiamarker, where he studied business administration at the University of Klagenfurtmarker from 1988 to 1992. He soon joined the far right nationalist Austrian Freedom Party and became the second deputy governor of Carinthia in 1994, but after a dispute with his mentor, Jörg Haider, he left politics to work for Magna Europe as a vice president for human resources and public relations.

Minister of Finance

However, in 2000 he returned to politics, when a coalition was formed between the Austrian People's Party and the Freedom Party. At that time, he was the youngest minister of finance ever to hold office in Austria, beating even Hannes Androsch. When the coalition broke in 2002, Grasser left his party, but, following national elections in November and the reestablishment of the coalition under the lead of a strengthened People's Party, Grasser again became minister, but this time being nominated by the People's Party.

Grasser remains a controversial figure. While supporters argue that he successfully consolidated Austria's budget deficit, critics see him as incompetent and an opportunist. Although he has recently attempted to distance himself from his past in the Freedom Party he is still seen by many as far-right leaning. Grasser's policies and philosophy as a finance minister suggest a neoliberal stance. He is a self-proclaimed follower of the Austrian School of Economics. His immaculate appearance, his smooth-talking dynamism and yuppie antics have made him hugely popular with the public. He was generally perceived as the young and competent figure needed to shake up the traditional ways of the ruling parties that were becoming increasingly unpopular.

Departure from Politics

Grasser announced his departure from politics on January 9, 2007 and will return to the private sector. Apparently he is set to become an Investment banker at Salomon Smith Barney.

References

  1. Austria's finance minister says he's quitting politics - International Herald Tribune
  2. Grasser soll Investmentbanker werden - Österreich - Aktuelle Nachrichten - Vorarlberg Online



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