Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
He was born on January 2, 1969 in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, where he studied business administration at the University of Klagenfurt from 1988 to 1992. He soon joined the far right nationalist Austrian Freedom Party and became the second deputy governor of Caranthia 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.
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 supportes argue that he successfully consolidated Austria's budget deficit, critics see him as incompetent, an opportunist , if not as outright corrupt. 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, especially abroad, a stain he will probably never be capable of shaking off completely. Grasser's policies and philosophy as a finance minister suggest a strongly neoliberal and sometimes nationalist stance. 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.
He is still strongly under pressure by the opposition and the media because of the homepage affair , which resulted from a non-profit organization being set up by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce in order to create a personal website for him (). Leading Austrian tax lawyers such as Professor Werner Doralt argue that gift tax should have been paid for the money that was used to create the website. Other observers wonder where the money actually went, as the website seems not to be worth the money which had spent on it according to reports in the media.
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