Austrian Euroscepticism: The Shift From the Left to the Right

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Austria was a latecomer to the European Union amongst the prosperous European liberal democracies. The reason for this delay was Austria's permanent neutrality. During the years of the Cold War, Austria preferred to abstain from European Community membership due to its specific geopolitical position. When the coalition of the centre-left SPÖ and the centre-right ÖVP decided to apply for EC membership in 1989, most of the opposition came from the left, which considered neutrality and EC membership not to be fully compatible. During the 1990s, this situation changed – the left (notably the Green Party) progressively lost its earlier Euroscepticism, while the right (especially the FPÖ) increasingly identified itself with Eurosceptic positions. This was underlined by the Austrian response to the 'sanctions' imposed on the Austrian government in 2000 by the governments of the 14 other EU member states as a response to the inclusion of the FPÖ in the government. Moderate voters on both the centre-right and centre-left, as well as supporters of the Greens, retained their 'Euro-optimistic' attitudes, in contrast to the rightist voters of the FPÖ.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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