Austria: Out of the Shadow of the Past

Austria: Out of the Shadow of the Past

Austria: Out of the Shadow of the Past

Austria: Out of the Shadow of the Past


Anton Pelinka analyses and describes the many facets of Austria, past and present. The book emphasises the decline of the traits that have been considered essentially Austrian, typically these are Austrian Catholicism and social partnership.


Austria usually considers itself "between": between East and West, between North and South, at the crossroads of Europe. Because it is located at the very center of Central Europe, Austria is necessarily involved in all the significant developments taking place in Europe. Since 1989, Austria's neighbors to the east have been undergoing dramatic transitions. During the same period, Austria applied for membership in the European Union, the main organization of Western European integration, and joined the EU in 1995.

This is just one of many important aspects of the transformation of Austrian society and the Austrian political system. Austria is not the same Austria it used to be: It is neither the Austria of the Habsburgs nor the Austria that was part of Nazi Germany. Nor is it the same Austria that came into existence when the Second Republic was founded in 1945. The realities of present-day Austria are different from those of the past.

This book takes the same approach used in the comparative analysis of political systems. It is a twofold comparison: It compares contemporary Austria with other political systems, especially those that are at about the same stage of development; and it compares contemporary Austria with the Austrias that existed in the past. The dynamism of the changes currently taking place in Austria can be described and analyzed with this double focus of comparison.

I am grateful to Professor W. Rand Smith of Lake Forest College for inviting me to publish this book in his series Nations of the Modern World: Europe. I thank Lee Anne Oberhofer for editing the English version and getting it ready for publication. Ellen Palli has been as helpful and efficient as ever in dealing with the manuscript. Sylvia Greiderer provided the index.

Anton Pelinka
Innsbruck . . .

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