Parity Commission for Prices and Wages

   / Paritätische Kommission
   Together with Proportionality or Proporz, the Parity Commission was a major instrument of social stability in Austria after World War II. Established in March 1957, during a period of inflation, it consisted of two representatives from organizations that spoke for the concerns of employers, labor, agriculture, and the trade unions, respectively. The chancellor and the ministers of trade and industry, social affairs, and the interior were also members, but after 1966 they could not vote. The main charge of the commission was to set wages and prices at levels that were socially equitable without choking off the development of a free market, a duty that made the body the virtual arbiter of Austria’s economic development. For policy to move forward, the commission had to make its recommendations unanimously, an arrangement that encouraged the art of compromise among its members.
   The commission’s cooperation proposals encountered little political opposition. Because the leaders of the four great economic corporations were usually part of the commission, they were positioned to exact compliance from their constituencies. Although such an arrangement marginalized the legislative mandate of the Austrian parliament, members of the commission were close to the major PARITY COMMISSION FOR PRICES AND WAGES/PARITÄTISCHE KOMMISSION • 229 political parties. The commercial and agricultural chambers had ties to the Austrian People’s Party, the trade union organization to the Socialist Party of Austria. Austria’s membership in the European Union and the globalization of many economic concerns such as environmental pollution have somewhat marginalized the significance of the commission, though it continues to function.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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