In essence, the consociational model seeks to elucidate two aspects of the political architecture of democracies with deeply divided societies. The first relates to the political sociology of these societies, which the model characterises as comprising vertically encapsulated and mutually hostile political subcultures (or ‘pillars’). The second focus of the model is upon the accommodating behaviour of the subcultural political elites, whose co-operation provides a metaphorical ‘arch’, which spans the divide between the pillars and thus helps ensure the political system’s stability. The introductory chapter to this volume spells out the framework for the analysis of parties and party systems in consociational democracies which the author has deduced from Lijphart’s initial model. The aim of this chapter is to use the Austrian case to test the value of that framework. 1
The next section of this chapter will examine the role which Austria’s pillar parties have played within their respective subcultures, or ‘Lager’2 This will be done by first identifying the main characteristics of pillar party organisation and behaviour during the period from 1945-66, when the country was widely held to exhibit both pillarized segmentation and elite accommodation (Secher 1958; Engelmann 1966; Lehmbruch 1967a; Pulzer 1969; Powell 1970; Engelmann and Schwarz 1974a; Stiefbold 1974a and 1974b; Houska 1985). Second, we will consider changes in these aspects since this period of ‘classic’ consociationalism (Luther and Müller 1992b:10). Similarly, the third section of this chapter will use the author’s framework to assess the extent of change since the 1960s in the overarching accommodation between the party political elite of the rival subcultures. This will be done by means of a consecutive analysis of the ‘format’ and ‘mechanics’ (Sartori 1976:128f) of party interaction in the five main arenas of party competition.
Throughout, the main focus will be upon Austria’s three traditional Lager parties: the Sozialistische (since 1991 Sozialdemokratische) Partei Österreichs, or SPÖ, the Östemichische Volkspartei, or ÖVP and the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, or FPÖ. It is the first two of these that have in Austria constituted what the opening chapter of this volume has referred to as ‘pillar parties’, or as the parties ‘playing the