- / Die GrünenWith representatives in and out of the Austrian National Assembly since 1986, the Austrian Green Party has become considerably more professionalized than it was in its formative stages. Its recent leaders have shown a far greater willingness to observe the protocols of Austrian parliamentary life than did their immediate predecessors. A product of environmental concerns common to many European countries since the 1970s, the Green movement in Austria developed during controversies over nuclear power plant construction during the last years of Chancellor Bruno Kreisky’s government. Environmentalist opposition to such an undertaking helped to swing public opinion against it—a referendum in 1978 rejected the project by the narrowest of margins. The Greens also whipped up public opinion in 1985 against erecting a hydroelectric plant at Hainburg in Lower Austria.Despite its very small size—in 1990 it had only around 2,000 members—the party has enjoyed a great deal of publicity, which has attracted disaffected voters for reasons well beyond environmental issues. Corruption scandals in both major political parties and Kurt Waldheim’s controversial presidency have contributed to what, until electoral losses in 1995, seemed to be a rising tide of Green support. The initial appeal of the party was among the young, but its leadership has been willing to look beyond that constituency for leadership. In 1992, the Greens ran Robert Jungk, a 78-year-old writer, as a candidate in the presidential elections. University of Innsbruck professor of economics Alexander van der Bellen (1944–) has chaired the party since 1997. He has often cooperated with the Socialist Party of Austria, but has carefully avoided bringing the Greens to any federal coalitions.
Historical dictionary of Austria. Paula Sutter Fichtner. 2014.
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