Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 101
Austrian People's Party, 101
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)
Party name and code number
Austrian people's party, 101, Osterreichische Volkspartei, OVP
Information base and researchers
Information on the OVP was coded from 1746 pages of literature and 132 documents on party politics in Austria. 827 pages, or 47 percent, deal with the OVP. Five documents, or 4 percent, are in French and 21, 16 percent, are in German. Raymond Duvall indexed the literature for retrieval. Raymond Duvall coded the first two variable clusters. Kenneth Janda coded the remainder from research notes provided by Duvall.

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
1.01 year of origin and 1.02 name changes
1890, ac6
2, ac9
There is a sharp disagreement in the literature concerning the year of origin of the OVP, with most citing 1945 as the year in which an organization of that name publicly emerged. Disagreement exists, however, over the relationship of the OVP to the first republic's Christian social party, founded in approximately 1890. The earlier date is chosen, and the emergence of the OVP in 1945 is scored as a complete name change.
1.03 organizational discontinuity
6, ac7
No splits or mergers are recorded after 1954. Up to that time, however, the OVP had some trouble clearly defining its new postwar existence. At least a couple of minor splits occurred. In 1949, the worker and employees league seceded from the OVP in Tyrol for a short we, running candidates and winning seats separately. In 1951, a split of some import, though still minor, occurred with Strachwitz disassociating the youth front from the OVP to establish the action for political renewal group which cooperated with the VDU . In 1953, a minor split occurred in Slovenian areas of Carinthia. no mergers were reported in the literature after the 1945 re-emergence of the party.
1.04 leadership competition
14, ac9
The national party congress or convention, a large body of over 300 delegates, has the responsibility for electing the national leader. In the congress of 1951, Figl and Hurdes, respectively, had been elected party chairman and general secretary. Two months later, the OVP lost the presidential election. Under pressure from other leaders, Figl--still chancellor--asked the executive to name an acting party chairman and an acting general secretary to replace him and Hurdes. Raab and Maleta were thus installed in these positions in 1951 and were formally elected to the offices. In 1960, Raab and Maleta were forced to give up their party positions, although Raab remained as chancellor, and Gorbach and Withalm were recommended to the congress as replacements. The congress then named Edward Hauptmann to succeed Raab as chancellor when he would retire, but in 1961, Raab and other party leaders arranged for Gorbach to become chancellor instead.
1.05 / 2.05 legislative instability and strength
instability is .03, ac8
strength is .46 for 1950-55, ac8 and .49 for 1956-62, ac9
The OVP representation in the parliament ranged between 47 and 50 percent of the seats.
1.06 / 2.06 electoral instability and strength
instability is .03, ac9
strength is .41 for 1950-55, ac9 and .45 for 1956-62, ac9
Elections were held in 1953, 1956, and 1962. The party's high percentage of the vote was 46 percent in 1956 and its low was 41 percent in 1953.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
 2.01 government discrimination
3, ac5
In terms of electoral system discrimination, the OVP is clearly the beneficiary of a practice, maintained until the election of 1959, in which ballot paper was distributed by the parties individually rather than by the government. The OVP benefited because of its ability to reach rural and alpine people more easily. The SPO and OVP together benefited from government discrimination in allotting radio time to parties and candidates. The two parties received much more free radio time than other parties. While one source revealed a strange business deal between the government and the two coalition parties in 1956, it was decided not to include it as the basis for giving the parties four more "points" because there was not clear enough evidence that the deal was in fact, or intended to be, financially discriminatory. The deal involved the sale of stock in the nationalized banks, only ten per cent of which was voting stock, but that 10 percent was reserved for sale to only the two coalition parties.
2.02 governmental leadership
6 out of 6 for 1950-55, ac9
7 out of 7 for 1956-62, ac9
The great coalition system of party balance is manifest at the governmental leadership level with the existence of two federal "executive" offices, the president and the chancellor. The chancellor is named by the president and selected by the party with the greatest number of seats in the Nationalrat. Throughout our time period, the OVP always provided the federal chancellor, the office being held by Figl, Raab, and Gorbach, in that order. While the chancellor is legitimately the head of government, the office of president--the head of state - is not inconsequential, being endowed with considerable constitutional powers and being directly elected. The SPO held this office throughout our period. Its official importance, plus the feeling that total exclusion of the SPO from "governmental leadership" was not warranted due to the coalition arrangements, has led to the decision that both offices should be included as a governmental unit.
2.03 cabinet participation
6 out of 6 for 1950-55, ac9
7 out of 7 for 1956-62, ac9
The main feature of Austrian politics from 1945-67 was the coalition of the OVP and SPO , in which positions at every level of government were distributed in proportion to the percentage of votes each received at the last election. Cabinet posts were roughly equally divided, with the OVP generally holding one more ministry than the SPO . The OVP held four ministries (education, finance, trade and reconstruction, and agriculture and forestry) through our entire time period. in addition, the ministry of foreign affairs was in OVP hands until 1959, and the ministry of defense after 1956.
2.04 national participation
6, ac9
The OVP was clearly a national party throughout our time period. It always held the plurality of Nationalrat seats, many taken from each of the four major electoral districts. The range in percent of party support coming from each of the four major electoral districts was greatest in 1962, when 19.3 percent came from Vienna (district 1) and 33 percent from district 3 (upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg). The average deviation of party support from the population distribution in the four districts was only 2.8 percentage points over four elections.
2.07 outside origin
10, ac5
While no explicit information was turned up on this variable, several sources converge in suggesting the importance of Karl Lueger in founding the Christian social party. Lueger apparently was first elected to political office in 1897, after the founding of the party, when he became mayor of Vienna.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
5.01 ownership of means of production
1 for 1st half, ac9
-1 for 2nd half, ac9
The OVP agreed with the SPO on nationalization after world war two to prevent the Soviet takeover of German property for reparation of war costs. About 20 percent of the total industrial production was said to be nationalized. But the nationalization policy was not the preferred solution of the OVP at the time. The 1956 election was fought on the issue of denationalizing the oil industry, 49 percent of which was to become available to private ownership through sale of people's shares. The OVP won and later urged the creation of even more private property.
 5.02 government role in economic planning
2 for 1st half, ac7
1 for 2nd half, ac7
The party engaged in economic planning, but it did not seem to be committed to a high degree of planning in principle. It enacted five separate wage and price agreements during the first part of our time period and employed subsidies, particularly in the agricultural area. Originally it had to formulate a long range plan to obtain Marshall plan aid, but later the party showed more readiness to rely on market forces and initiative from private capital.
5.03 redistribution of wealth
2, ac5
There is not much discussion of this aspect of the OVP policy. The 1953 platform did favor tax reductions on wages and income to encourage savings and the accumulation of wealth, and the progressive taxation rates were described as too great. There is no lengthy discussion of the final consequence of the taxation rates, but it appears that the rates were reduced across the board rather than reduced at the high levels.
5.04 social welfare
0, ac5
The OVP position on social welfare was ambiguous and partially contradictory. On the one hand, the party was said to accept the principle of the modern welfare state, and its policy of solidarism would support this form of intervention. Moreover, it supported rent controls for tenant protection, extended child care assistance, and sought more funds for old age assistance. On the other hand, it proposed cutting the state share of the pension fund from 30 to 25 percent and argued for a stable currency which would enable a person to provide for his old age without outside help.
5.05 secularization of society
3, ac6
The OVP minister of education demanded public subsidy for parochial schools. Catholicism is cited by some as the basis for the party, which was occasionally referred to in the early period as the Catholic people's party.
5.06 support of the military
3, ac8
Discussion does not center so much on the financial support of the army as on the creation of an army. Before the occupying troops were withdrawn from Austria in 1955, the OVP backed the formation of a federal army to ensure a principle of armed neutrality in foreign affairs. Upon achieving independence, the OVP endorsed conscription and a one year period of service, but this was later reduced to 9 months in a compromise with the SPO.
5.07 alignment with east-west blocs
1, ac9
The OVP supported the principle of neutrality as required in the state treaty which ended the occupation of Austria in 1955. But the party definitely leaned to the west in foreign policy matters.
.08 anti-colonialism
3 for 1st half, ac9
0 for 2nd half, ac4
Freedom from foreign control in the form of occupying armies of the allied powers following world war two was the main objective of the OVP during the early part of our time period. It appears that this issue faded away completely during the later part, for there was no discussion of staying outside the influence of these forces, excepting the repeat of military conquest. But foreign influences in Austrian economics or politics did not draw attention for party policy.
5.09 supranational integration
2, ac7
The OVP was definitely inclined toward entry into the EEC, but pursuit of this goal was hindered by Austria's formal commitment to neutrality because political implications were seen in EEC. The party once attempted a multilateral association with EEC, but this failed with the veto of Britain's application for entry. Thus, the official policy of the party seemed to favor international cooperation only at the level of EFTA, with the northern countries, but the party continually explored entering a stronger federation.
5.10 national integration
2, ac4
Carinthia, one of the nine provinces of Austria, has approximately 50,000 Slovenes. Their rights and customs are supposedly protected by law. Occasionally, the Slovenes push their nationalistic interests, and one reference was made to the OVP press being opposed to Slovenian nationalists.
5.11 electoral participation
5, ac9
There is no discussion in the literature about voting eligibility, but it seems that the OVP supports the present system, which enfranchises all citizens at 21 and features compulsory voting in some provinces.
5.12 protection of civil rights
There is no discussion of the party's position on securing civil rights through government opposition to social discrimination. Presumably, this would be an issue with the Slovene minority in particular and with the many other ethnic minorities throughout Austria.
5.13 interference with civil liberties
1, ac6
There is private ownership of newspapers in Austria, but they operate with some restrictions. Our consultant holds that since much of the press is directly or indirectly allied with one of the coalition partners, it would be unlikely for it to run too much afoul of the government.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet experts left-right ratings
US says 2, center
Soviets say 1, it reflects the interests of major industrialists and landowners, and it is closely connected with the Catholic church

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
 6.00 open competition in the electoral process
4, ac9
The OVP vigorously contested elections against the SPO , seeking to win as many seats as possible to improve its position within the government. Despite the coalition policy at the governmental level, the parties entered no electoral alliances.
6.10 restricting party competition
0, ac9
Throughout our time period, the avowed policy of the OVP was governing through a coalition with the SPO . Despite the continued reliance on coalition government, it seemed that during the second half of our period, the OVP would have chanced governing alone if it had received a clear majority of seats. it also seemed conceivable that the OVP might have formed a government with the VDU - FPO if a coalition with the SPO could not be managed. Thus, the grand coalition was not directed at restricting the competition of other parties. Indeed, having a third party with the balance of seats actually improved the viability of the governing coalition.
6.20 subverting the political system
0, ac9
There is no evidence that the OVP ever entertained thoughts of subversion of the political system in order to accomplish its ends.
6.30 propagandizing ideas and program
6.31 2, ac9.
The Osterreichische Tageszeitung, owned and operated by the OVP, is one of the principal party newspapers. Each bund and provincial organization also operates a newspaper.
6.32 1, ac5.
The party does maintain some schools for its members and provides other training, though by no means to the extent that the SPO does.
6.33 1, ac6.
The OVP issues an election manifesto for each campaign, but lengthy accounts of party platforms are not prominent in the literature, as with the SPO .
6.34 2, ac9.
There is considerable evidence of OVP activity in publishing statements of party positions and disseminating party views through radio, movies, handbills, and so on.
6.50 providing for welfare of party members
6.51 1, ac6.
One source mentions the role of the women's movement within the party in providing clothing to children, especially at Christmas.
6.52 0, ac3.
There is no discussion of the party running employment services, outside of patronage positions, and it is assumed not to be an activity.
6.53 2, ac9.
The penetration of both parties into the federal bureaucracy since 1945 has turned the ministries into party preserves. There is considerable discussion of the need for party "pull" to obtain governmental action.
6.54 0, ac3.
There is no discussion of the educational role of the OVP, and it is assumed to be negligible.
6.55 2, ac7.
Much is made of the social functions of the parties, including the OVP, but it appears that the Catholic church itself organizes many of the activities claimed as OVP social functions.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
 7.01 sources of funds
2 (sectors 04, 02), ac7
Writers are agreed on the conclusion that only about 10 percent of OVP funds comes from membership subscriptions. Although some party enterprises, e.g., newspaper publication, account for a portion of party income, most comes from contributions from wealthy supporters and from the affiliated leagues. individual businessmen and the business and farmers leagues are identified as the major sources of this income.
7.02 source of members
3 (sector 02), ac7
Strictly speaking, individual membership in the OVP is allowed, but one source stated that less than 2,000 of the 600,000 members were affiliated to the party directly. Membership is essentially indirect, with affiliation to the party coming through affiliation with one of the three leagues--farmers, business, and workers. The farmers are said to contribute about 50 percent of the members, business about 20 percent, and workers about 30.
7.03 sources of leaders
2 (sectors 02, 04), ac5
2 (sectors 04, 02), ac5
There is no breakdown of OVP deputies in parliament by their background in the literature. Discussion of the backgrounds of the very top leaders and vague generalizations about the party leadership imply that most of the leaders come from agricultural and business backgrounds, with agriculture being more important in the first part of the time period and business more important later.
7.04 relations with domestic parties
4, ac9
The OVP entered a governing coalition with the SPO and the communists in 1945, as the provisional government was established under the allied powers. The communists left this coalition of anti-fascist parties in 1947, leaving the OVP and SPO alone in the government. The parties formed secret coalition pacts in 1949 and 1953, and entered into open ones in 1956 and 1959. While contesting vigorously with each other at the general election stage, the parties agreed to cooperate in governing the country. This agreement was prompted initially by Austria's conquestnd occupation by the allied powers. The coalition lived beyond 1955, the date of Austrian independence, out of convenience for both parties, fears of party repolarization as before the war, and the lack of a clear parliamentary majority by either. Governmental decisions were made by a coalition committee composed of top leaders of each party. These decisions were then backed by unanimous party votes in parliament.
7.05 relations with foreign organizations
4, ac5
The OVP was said to have sent a delegate to the liberal congress in 1951. However, the OVP was more inclined to the international organization of Christian democratic parties, nei, to which it seems to have been affiliated throughout our time period.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
 8.01 structural articulation
11, ac9
Because the OVP is organized both vertically on a territorial basis into provincial and district organizations, and horizontally into bunds or leagues, the party has a rather complex structure. The farmers and business leagues are the most powerful of the three leagues, with the workers league of distinctly lesser importance. Most of the OVP members are indirectly affiliated to the party through membership in one of these leagues, the chairmen of which hold positions on the bundesparteivorstand, the party executive. Each league also is represented on the coalition committee, joining the chancellor and the leader of the parliamentary group to provide the five OVP members on the ten member bipartisan committee that formulated governmental policy for ratification by the Nationalrat during our period. in addition to these national organs, there is a landerrat which functioned as a consultative body for matters affecting the provinces and a party congress, which met biennially and on special call. Of the various national organs, the function of the parliamentary group seemed least clear.
8.02 intensiveness of organization
4, ac4
There is little discussion of the OVP local organization, which one
source identifies as the section. Supposedly, members of the three bunds are brought together in the sections, which are then represented in district organizations. There is no mention of the number of sections in the OVP. They are thought to encompass from 1,000 to 50,000 voters and thus qualify as a branch level of intensiveness.
8.03 extensiveness of organization
6, ac3
While there is no mention of the number of sections nor of their coverage throughout the country, it is clear that the OVP enjoys rather uniform success. Thus their coverage is assumed to be rather complete.
8.04 frequency of local meetings
no information
8.05 frequency of national meetings
7, ac5
There is no statement about the frequency of meetings of the bundesparteivorstand, but our consultant states that it meets twice monthly.
8.06 maintaining records
9, ac9
Several writers commented on the inaccuracies of membership lists, for membership in the OVP occurs through the three affiliated leagues. It seems that the OVP does not publish detailed membership figures and does not engage in the analysis of membership data. Although the party publishing program does not match that of the SPO , it is still considerable. Our consultant states that the party maintained a small archive and commissioned some early survey research, although it also relied on the leagues for much of its research work. So it is scored 2 for publishing party propaganda, 3 for maintaining an archive, and 4 for maintaining membership lists to produce a combined score of 9 for maintaining records.
8.07 pervasiveness of organization
17, ac9
In addition to the farmers, business, and workers league which function in liaison with the OVP, there is a substantial women's movement, a youth movement, a social aid society, a children's aid society, and numerous sport organizations allied with the party. There is some complaint that the non-bunde organizations have difficulty in competing with the bunde for party attention, but it is clear that the OVP influence extends far and wide into the social organization of Austria, although its control seems to be less than the SPOs.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
 9.01 nationalization of structure
3, ac7
The code assigned to the OVP does not match exactly the stated operational definition, but it is felt to reflect the lack of centralization in the party structure. The OVP does indeed have a hierarchical structure of section--district--provincial--national organs, but there is said to be a high degree of provincial autonomy and the national organs are specifically referred to as federal (bunde) organs. Moreover, the three constituent leagues divide the party horizontally and socially as well as vertically and territorially. For the purposes of our coding, the business, farmers, and workers leagues are treated as counterparts of regional organizations that tend to dominate, rather than be dominated by, the national party organs.
9.02 selecting the national leader
6, ac7
Although the party congress is entrusted with responsibility for selecting the party leader, the two actual changes of leadership during our period suggest that its role is one of ratifying choices of the executive committee, instead. The power of the congress to name the party leadership is severely limited by the voting procedure. Although the ballot is secret, only one choice for each post is provided by a nominating committee, and delegates are required to cross out names and write in alternatives.
9.03 selecting parliamentary candidates
4, ac5
Nationalrat elections in Austria feature proportional representation and selection of candidates from party lists according to the party votes won in each constituency. Since 1949, the voter has been allowed to indicate preferences for the party's candidates, but the party's ranking is crucial to election. This is especially true since 1958, when the state printed official ballot papers for the first time. There is little discussion of the list preparation within the ovp, but it appears that the selection process is decentralized at the constituency level, with leaders representing the farmers, business, and workers bunde negotiating the list to insure satisfactory candidacies in terms of both number and position.
9.04 allocating funds
3, ac5
Again, in the coding of this variable the leagues are treated as the counterpart of regional party organizations. The national party organization is clearly dependent on the leagues for finances. Subscription money is collected by the leagues, which seem to retain half and give half to the local and provincial organizations, which in turn transm it portions to the national level.
9.05 formulating policy
6, ac9
No one seriously contends that the party congress plays much of a role
in policy making within the OVP. Although lower organs can submit resolutions for action by the congress, these are sorted out beforehand by the central party secretariat, and in any event, the resolutions proposed by the congress to the executive committee are said to be ignored in the minutes of the congress. Also, no one contends that the parliamentary party group is influential in policy making. It appears that policy is formulated by the executive committee with special attention to the interests of the three constituent leagues. This policy is then articulated, and perhaps reformulated, within the OVP half of the ten man coalition committee in bargaining with the five SPO representatives.
9.06 controlling communications
4, ac6
Control of the party press is certainly mixed within the OVP. Each league has its own newspaper as does each provincial party organization. The OVP does operate its own monthly periodical, but it is said not to have a publication specifically for party functionaries. On the other hand, it is supposed to run something like a press service for the various party publications.
9.07 administering discipline
3, ac8
Discipline is said to be weak within the party overall, but strong discipline is seen among OVP parliamentarians who are said to sign an undated resignation from the party before they are slated for the election. It is not clear, however, whether the constituency organization or the central organization can redeem these pledges.
9.08 leadership concentration
4 for 1st half, ac7
3 for 2nd half, ac9
Several authors report that Raab ruled the OVP in an autocratic fashion during the first part of our time period. Yet it is clear that Raab, as a representative of the business league, had to contend with the powerful farmers league and the less threatening workers league. Party leadership, then, seems to have been concentrated in a set of people that included Raab and the chairmen of the farmers and workers leagues, perhaps including Maleta as general secretary as well. During the second part of our period, the circle of leadership certainly spread as Raab's influence waned. In 1959, for example, Raab's proposal to give the ministry of finance to the socialists as part of a new coalition pact was rejected by the executive committee, despite Raab's threat of resignation.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
 10.01 legislative cohesion
1.0, ac7
Although there is no comprehensive study of parliamentary voting in our Austrian information file, statements are consistent in emphasizing the nearly perfect cohesion obtained by the OVP. As of 1961, there were only a few cases recorded where OVP members opposed the leadership in voting, and these were said to have resulted in expulsion from the party. There was some interest in allowing free votes on selected issues, but the practice never materialized.
10.02 ideological factionalism
4, ac7
An ideological dimension of factionalism in the OVP often identified in the literature is clericalism versus liberalism, with the emphasis put on the role of catholic ideology in the party. The workers and employees league, which constitutes only about 30 percent of OVP membership, is considered to be the bastion of clericalism within the party, pushing for ideological purity, which in this instance means Christian social doctrine of a "leftist" nature. The liberal or reformist wing is supported by interests organized in the business league, which reverses the typical pattern found in western democracies.
10.03 issue factionalism
6, ac9
Economic issues serve to divide the party on a continuing basis along its three constituent leagues--business, farmers, and workers. The main conflicts are between the business and farmers, for the workers are less influential within the OVP. Threats by the agrarians to leave and join the socialists are more real than those by the workers to leave and join the socialists, for the SPO 's traditional anti-clericalism could not be accepted by the strongly catholic workers league. So economic issues, like the debate over desirability of agricultural cooperatives, have seen the most serious clashes between the peasants and the industrialists.
10.04 leadership factionalism
2, ac7
There are occasional references in the literature to an anti-Raab faction within the OVP, but his supporters and opponents did not crystallize into identifiable groupings that warrant description as factions in our usage of the term.
10.05 strategic or tactical factionalism
2 for 2st half, ac9
5 for 2nd half, ac7
Until Austria achieved formal independence in 1955, coalition government between the OVP and SPO was generally accepted as the proper strategy for the OVP to follow. The only disagreement within the party was whether the VDU ought to be involved in the coalition, but this issue did not give rise to factional divisions. Beginning in 1956, however, more pressure developed to end the coalition and the policy of cooperation with the SPO . This reformers faction looked to the FPO, the successor to the VDU, as a likely coalition partner if the OVP could not win a parliamentary majority outright.
10.06 party purges
0, ac9
There seems to be no possibility that any purge occurred within the OVP during our period.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 membership requirements
2, ac4
Information on the actual process of joining the OVP is sketchy. By far most of the members join the party through membership in one of the three constituent leagues. Party dues are collected through the leagues, so it appears that payment of dues rather than formal registration constitutes party membership.
11.02 membership participation
1, ac5
There is no discussion of the level of activity practiced by party members, but many of the claimed 600,000 members must surely be nominal only, with membership in the party coming through the farmers, business, or workers leagues which they join directly. Our consultant notes that membership participation varies by league. The OAAB is generally considered to be most active.
11.03 material incentives
2, ac3
While there is no specific discussion of the motivational bases for OVP militants, there is continual reference to the importance of party membership in achieving a state position, for the OVP-SPO coalition followed a system of patronage, called proporz, which divided public employment between the parties in accordance with the ministries which each controlled and the votes each party obtained. Certainly the OVP could count on the active support of party members who were holding or seeking such positions.
11.04 purposive incentives
1, ac3
Some proportion of the OVP must be motivated by considerations that stem from clericalism or anti-socialism or both, but this proportion is judged to be less than those motivated form material incentives. It is likely that the workers league is a major source of those urged on by ideological purity in the form of Christian social doctrine.
11.05 doctrinism
1, ac6
One source emphasizes the catholic philosophy of the OVP, which follows a doctrine of solidarismus, stressing a form of social harmony based on the existing order of things. Existing economic structures provide the individual with his main contact with society, and one's profession or trade is a basic social unit next only to the family. An official party explanation of solidarismus refers to papal encyclicals.
11.06 personalism
0, ac5
Although Raab was elected honorary president of the OVP for life and he had great influence within the party especially during the first part of our period, there was no claim that he possessed charismatic power over any sizable proportion of the party militants.