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End of the Kreisky Era

During Kreisky's tenure as chancellor, Austria enjoyed unprecedented prosperity, but by the time the April 1983 election approached, the SPÖ had few fresh ideas with which to attract critical swing voters. Its image also suffered from various political and financial scandals (see Political Developments since 1983). Its proposal for a tax hike aimed at upper-income Austrians to finance job creation was countered by the ÖVP with promises of no new taxes and more careful use of existing government tax revenues. Although the ÖVP failed to unseat the SPÖ as the largest party in the Nationalrat, the ÖVP benefited from a significant shift in voter sentiment, and the SPÖ lost its majority, winning ninety seats, which was five seats fewer than in 1979. The ÖVP gained four seats for a total of eighty-one. The FPÖ won an additional seat, for a total of twelve, despite a decline in its share of the vote. Two "green" parties, the United Greens of Austria (Vereinigte Grüne Österreichs--VGÖ) and the Alternative List of Austria (Alternative Liste Österreichs--ALÖ), sought to rally voters on environmental issues. Together they took about 3.3 percent of the vote but won no parliamentary seats.

Kreisky had campaigned strongly for an absolute majority and resigned rather than lead a coalition government. His minister of education, Fred Sinowatz, became chancellor in 1983, heading an SPÖ-FPÖ coalition. Kreisky's departure marked a major turning point in Austria's postwar history, and the Sinowatz government was to be a transitional phase into the contemporary era.

Last Update: 2009-06-21