Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 103
Austrian Independent/Freedom Party, 103
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 League of Independents, later the Freedom or Liberal Party, 103, Verband der Unabhangigen, VDU, then Freiheitliche Partei Osterreichs, FPO, 103

Information base and researchers

Information on the VDU was coded from 746 pages of literature and 132 documents on party politics in Austria. 306 of these pages, or 18 percent, deal with the VDU. 5 of the documents--4 percent--are in French, and 21 documents--16 percent--are in German. Raymond Duvall indexed the literature for retrieval. Raymond Duvall coded the first two variable clusters. Kenneth Janda coded the remainr from research notes by Duvall.

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
1.01 year of origin and 1.02 name changes
1949, AC9
6, AC7
All sources agree that the VDU began in 1949, immediately prior to the elections of that year. The only possible difficulty is in 1955-56, when the VDU disappeared and the FPO emerged. Most sources talk of the FPO As a direct successor to the VDU, but there do seem to be important differences , including different leadership, and smaller popular support. The weight of scholarly opinion, however, resolves the issue in favor of considering the VDU and FPO one organization. Thus the emergence of the FPO is scored as a major name change. Also in 1949 the VDU changed its name to Wahlpartei der Unabhangigen for the purposes of running candidates. No changes occurred after 1956.
1.03 organizational discontinuity
8, AC7
Organizational discontinuity is continuous from 1949 (birth of the VDU ) to 1956 (name change to FPO), with expulsions of provincial executive Committees and dissolution of entire provincial organizations (both in 1949), The expulsion of a general secretary, a parliamentary representative, and Finally the withdrawal of two leaders and founders (kraus and reimann) together with their following of nearly 50 percent of the party's supporters. No splits or mergers, however, were reported for the post-1956 period.
1.04 leadership competition
16, AC9
Three changes occurred in the office of party chairman, with most changes, at least, occurring through an electoral process in the large national party congress. The chairmen were Kraus (1949-52), Stendebach (1952-56), Reinthaller (1956-58), and Peter (1958-62).
1.05 / 2.05 legislative instability and strength instability is .38, AC8
Strength is .09 for 1950-55, AC8 and .04 for 1956-62, AC9
The VDU-FPO was distinctly a minor party next to the two other giants in the nationalrat. The VDU-FPO never held more than 10 percent of the seats, and Its proportion slipped to 3 percent for 1956-1958.
1.06 / 2.06 electoral instability and strength instability is .17, AC9
Strength is .11 for 1950-55, AC9 and .07 for 1956-62, AC9
The strongest showing of the VDU-FPO was in 1953, when it won 11 percent of the vote. Its support remained about 7 percent for the elections of 1956, 1959, and 1962.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
  2.01 government discrimination
11 for 1st half, AC3
-3 for 2nd half, AC5
The practice of handing out private ballot paper (until 1959) clearly discriminated against other parties In favor of the OVP in rural and alpine areas. Equal radio time was clearly denied the VDU (FPO), with the OVP and SPO being given much free government Radio time. In addition, during the first time period, an effective ban was imposed on two VDU newspapers for three months throughout the country by the executive committee of the allied council of occupation forces.
2.02 governmental leadership
0 out of 6 for 1950-55, AC9
0 out of 7 for 1956-62, AC9
The VDU-FPO never Held positions of government leadership, with the socialists always holding the Office of president and the OVP always holding the chancellorship.
2.03 cabinet participation
0 out of 6 for 1950-56, AC9
0 out of 7 for 1956-62, AC9
The coalition Between the OVP and SPO never included "third party" personnel. The VDU-FPO never participated in the government during our time period. The closest the Cabinet came to non-OVP or non-SPO members were a couple of "non party" persons (e.g., minister of finance, kamitz) selected by the two major parties to fill Ministries apportioned to them.
2.04 national participation
5, AC7
The VDU-FPO, while relatively weak nationally, is nonetheless, a national party in that it competes in all national elections and its support is not terribly skewed toward one region. By provinces the range in percentage of votes in the first time period is from 4 percent (burgenland) to 19 percent (Salzburg) in 1953. In terms of percent of party support from each of the four electoral districts, the range is somewhat greater with 1956 showing only 9.3 Percent from lower Austria and 35.7 percent from district 3 (Upper Austria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, and Salzburg). In the second time period the range is Slightly greater for the same two districts--9.5 percent to 38.3 percent. But the fact that the party has been able to win seats from each of the four districts establishes it as a national party. The average deviation of party support from population distribution for all four electoral districts was 4.4 in 1953, 5.1 in 1956, 3.8 in 1959, and 4.7 in 1962.
2.07 outside origin
6, AC7
The primary movers in the 1949 founding of the VDU were apparently Kraus and reimann, two Salzburg-based journalists and publishers.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
5.01 ownership of means of production
5 for 1st half, AC8
-5 for 2nd half, AC6
The VDU position in the first part of our period was in favor of free enterprise and against further nationalization, in fact in favor of denationalization. The one reference to The FPO position in 1961 indicated that the party opposed nationalization. It is assumed that the same program was in force.
5.02 government role in economic planning
5, AC9
There were only three references to the party's position in the literature, but they all clearly indicated the party's opposition to economic planning in any form. Specifically, the party opposed the wage price agreements worked out by the OVP and the SPO. More generally, the party claimed that the role of the state should be limited to preservation of law and order and conduct of foreign affairs, interfering as little as possible with the country's economy.
5.03 redistribution of wealth
3, AC6
The literature in our file does not discuss the VDU/FPO position on distribution of wealth, but our consultant states that the party was undoubtedly against major redistribution.
5.04 social welfare
3, AC5
Our files contain no information on the VDU/FPO position on social welfare. Our consultant reports that the party's 1957 program SPOnsored assistance for large families but stressed the need for sta ble currency to Assist people in saving for retirement (rather than relying on social security type arrangements) and generously took the side of the professional and self- Employed middle class against the bureaucracy, i.e., the two large parties.
5.05 secularization of society
3, AC7
Two references were made to the anti-clerical nature of the party, but They did not elaborate the party's position.
5.06 support of the military
3, AC4
It was stated that the party would favor neutrality as a principle in foreign policy only if Austria were armed. This is taken as a pro-military position but is treated only as a moderate position in the absence of other Information.
5.07 alignment with east-west blocs
1, AC8
The VDU-FPO is on record in support of a neutral Austria, but it favors neutrality only within the framework of an armed western Europe. It is definitely inclined away from Moscow.
5.08 anti-colonialism
3 for 1st half, AC8
0 for 2nd half, AC4
Like the two major parties, the VDU supported Austrian independence during the first part of our time period. In the second half, the party did not focus on relationships with the former occupying countries, and freedom from foreign domination from these countries was not an issue for it. But the party took a special and different position concerning its relationships with Germany. This matter is treated under variable 5.09.
5.09 supranational integration
5, AC9
The basic issue for the VDU-FPO was its grossdeutsche ideology. Renewed links with Germany constituted its main platform plank. It pushed for entrance into eec in expectation of German domination of the common market and eventual political union in a larger German dominated European entity.
5.10 national integration
5, AC8
The VDU-FPO appeared to be a vigorous opponent of the slovene minority In carinthia, where it also drew strong support. The party promoted Austrian And Germanic customs in oppostion to the cultural tendencies of the slovenes.
5.11 electoral participation
5, AC6
Our files contained no explicit information about the VDU/FPO on this issue, but our consultant states that the party favored universal adult suffrage.
5.12 protection of civil rights
0, AC4
There were scattered and veiled references to the VDU-FPO discrimination against Jews. On the other hand, the party was said to have Taken a strong stand opposing discrimination against former Nazis. So the party's position can be considered as contradictory on this variable.
5.13 interference with civil liberties
1, AC3
There is no information in our files concerning the VDU/FPO position on this issue. Our consultant advises our code purely on an impressionistic basis.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet experts left-right ratings
US says 1, conservative
Soviets say 1, the party unites part of the petty and Middle bourgeoisie oriented toward western Germany. The party has many former Nazis and Sudeten Germans, and it is closely allied with reactionary west German organizations. It was founded on the basis of the neo-fascist union of independents.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
  6.00 open competition in the electoral process
3, AC7
The VDU-FPO followed mainly a strategy of competition in elections. It sought to maneuver for electoral advantage by changing its name and by Entering into electoral coalition with a minor group for one election. Seats Won by the VDU-FPO would keep either of the other parties from obtaining a majority in the nationalrat and could present the opportunity for inclusion in the governing coalition itself--with the OVP and with or without the SPO, which Was ideologically opposed to the VDU-FPO.
6.10 restricting party competition
0, AC9
The party was never in a position to restrict the competition of other Parties.
6.20 subverting political system
1, AC7
The literature suggests that the VDU-FPO was oriented also to the possibility of subverting the political system in Austria. Certainly this would mean ending the governing coalition and allowing the party to participate In government. But in addition, some authors believed that elements in the Party aimed at toppling the system itself, giving the party an opportunity to Reactivate nationalistic pro-German elements in the society. There is some Evidence that the VDU supported the communist call for a general strike in 1950 , which some say was aimed at an eventual coup.
6.50 providing for welfare of party members
No information.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
  7.01 sources of funds
There is really no useful report of the sources of VDU-FPO funding. One source mentions that the party was financed in part by a secret subsidy from the SPO. Another suggests that it may have received support from all the occupying powers during the first part of our period. For most writers, the party is viewed in negative terms, and skullduggery is seen in its financial support.
7.02 source of members
4, AC4
One source mentions that there was a type of indirect membership available to groups which wished to affiliate to the party. But there was no elaboration on the proportion of the membership that was affiliated in this manner. The bulk of the membership is thought to be direct.
7.03 sources of leaders
1 (sector 03), AC4
One source said that in the early part of our time period the party's parliamentary representatives were intellectuals, journalists, and professional men, but this reference was not very specific.
7.04 relations with domestic parties
7, AC9
The VDU-FPO attempted to gain entry into the governing coalition on several occasions. Initially, the VDU was excluded from the coalition because it was suspected of harboring both ex-Nazis and communists. Later, the party Was courted in a guarded manner by both the OVP and SPO. Economically, it was closer to the OVP, but it might have joined with the SPO on the issue of anit- clericalism. However, the pan-German orientation of the VDU-FPO proved to be Too threatening for either major party to pursue coalition possibilities past The feeler stage.
7.05 relations with foreign organizations
5, AC6
One source mentioned that the VDU was denied membership in the liberal International because of the Nazi backgrounds of some of its leaders.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
  8.01 structural aticulation
4, AC7
There is not much discussion of VDU-FPO organization in the literature, but there is certainly a party congress and an executive committee, which has an inner executive as well. The congress met annually during the second part of our period, and it seems to have met regularly before then as well. Exact membership of the executive committees is identifiable, but there is no discussion of the selection procedures, which are thought to involve a substantial amount of cooptation. The functions of the congress and the executive committees are not clear, and there is no statement of the relationship between the national organs and the parliamentary deputies.
8.02 intensiveness of organization
3, AC6
The literature contains little discussion of local organization in the VDU/FPO. It appears that the lander organizations function as the basic units of the party.
8.03 extensiveness of organization
No information.
8.04 frequency of local meetings
No information.
8.05 frequency of national meetings
6 for 1st half, AC6
6 for 2nd half, AC4
There is one statement in the early part of our period that the VDU executive committee meets once a month. It is assumed that the FPO follows the same procedure, although the frequency of meetings is not well documented originally.
8.06 maintaining records
1, AC5
There is something of a VDU-FPO press. Die Neu Front was published by The party, and there appears to be some weekly publications as well. But it does not appear that the party has any archive or research division worth mentioning, and membership figures are not published and estimates are considered unreliable.
8.07 pervasiveness of organization
3, AC5
On paper, the FPO is supposed to maintain organizations for businessmen, workers, and students, but it appears that these were not operating during our time period. Supposedly, there was a farmer's organization since 1952, but no membership figures were given. A teacher's Organization founded in 1953 had an estimated 2,200 members in 1960. A women's organization founded in 1955 seems to have folded by 1960.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
  9.01 nationalization of structure
4, AC4
There are national organs of the party as described in variable 8.01, but there was no mention of local organizations at all. Accepting the single reference to the existence of provincial organs as fact, one expects that there Are at least national and provincial levels to the organization, and it seems Likely that the national organs are superior to the regional ones.
9.02 selecting the national leader
6, AC3
There is no discussion of procedures for selecting the national leader. Noting the several changes in leadership and recognizing the disunity within the organization, one would guess that these leadership changes are the result of power struggles within the executive committee, although formal selection is by the party congress.
9.03 selecting parliamentary candidates
9, AC5
One source notes that the federal executive has the predominant role In selecting candidates in the FPO.
9.04 allocating funds
0, AC5
The party was said to have received support from all sources, including russian, american, british, and french forces during the occupation-- For quite different purposes, of course. One source held that the party also got a secret subsidy from the SPO. In any event, there appears to be little structure to the fund raising activities of the VDU-FPO. As a class, ex-Nazis are said to be important contributors.
9.05 formulating policy
No information.
9.06 controlling communications
5, AC5
The VDU-FPO published the Neue Front, which was considered to be a paper of relatively minor importance. It appears that the executive committee controlled the substantive content of this paper.
9.07 administering discipline
4 for 1st half, AC8
4 for 2nd half, AC3
Expulsion from the party seems to be the major disciplinary technique, which was used on several occasions in the early part of our period. The executive committee used this power on dissidents and some members with communist connections.
9.08 leadership concentration
1, AC3
There is no claim made for centralized leadership in the VDU-FPO. Several individuals were identified as making statements which were interpreted as party positions.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
  10.01 legislative cohesion
.40, AC3
In contrast to the SPO and the OVP, the VDU-FPO did not display much cohesion in the behavior of its parliamentary members. Indeed, the movement itself was said to be lacking in unity overall. The lack of cohesion was also said to be a major obstacle in forming any coalition with the OVP, for the coalition might not be supported by VDU-FPO members in parliament.
10.02 ideological factionalism
5, AC9
The thin literature on the party is full of references to ideological divisions within the party. Early in our period, neo-Nazis clashed with pro- Communists. Later, the division was more between liberal-moderates and radical Nationalists. The pan-German elements appeared to have won over the party upon its formation as the FPO.
10.03 issue factionalism
1, AC4
In some ways, the VDU-FPO was an issueless party, except for its pan- German orientation, on which there was little internal disagreement. Otherwise, the party was united on issues through its negative stand of opposition to the policies of the two main parties. More specifically, it was anti-proporz and anti-bureaucracy.
10.04 leadership factionalism
5, AC5
Leadership changes within the VDU-FPO appeared to have resulted from factional struggles only partly exposed to view.
10.05 strategic or tactical factionalism
5, AC9
One of the major sources of factionalism within the party was the question of participation in a coalition government. The moderate faction had the coalition orientation, while the radical faction urged opposition to coalition politics. With the 1956 congress, the moderates were forced out of the executive committee, leaving the radicals in charge.
10.06 party purges
0 for 1st half, AC9
1 for 2nd half, AC5
The VDU-FPO occasionally expelled members and leaders during the first part of our period, but not on a scale grand enough to be labeled a purge. But following the 1956 congress, enough expulsions occurred to warrant consideration as a purge of moderate elements.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 membership requirements
0, AC5
Although one source reports the VDU statutes as providing for regular, Supporting, youth, and honorary membership, it appears that these options were not utilized in any consistent fashion. Many adherents, it was said, did not want to be recorded as belonging to the party. The estimates of membership, made by prominent party leaders, ranged at one point from 25,000 to 50,000, suggesting that membership may not have been tallied at all.
11.02 membership participation
No information.
11.03 material incentives
0, AC3
Because the VDU-FPO as a party was frozen out of participation in the proporz patronage system and had low governmental status, it is unlikely that Promise of material benefits could have motivated many militants.
11.04 purposive incentives
4, AC3
Surely the mix of purposive incentives must have been varied, but it would seem that most of the militants were motivated by visions of some grander state of affairs than that which was obtained in postwar Austria. Pan-German orientations were especially strong within the party, and opposition to the OVP SPO coalition government served as a rallying point for all.
11.05 doctrinism
1, AC4
There were occasional mentions of VDU-FPO symbols and slogans from the Nazi past. Some of the old philosophy and writings probably served as a touchstone for this movement of intellectuals, businessmen, and professionals.
11.06 personalism
0, AC9
There is no evidence that any single leader captured enough personal Support from the militants to warrant characterization under personalism.