Vranitzky, Franz

   Serving as chairperson of the executive committees of both the Creditanstalt Bankverein (1976–1981) and the Austrian Provincial Bank (Länderbank) (1981–1984), Franz Vranitzky was minister of finance in the cabinet of Chancellor Fred Sinowatz (1929–2008) from 1984 to 1986. Overwhelmed by scandal and charges of ineptitude, Sinowatz withdrew from the government in 1986, to be replaced as chancellor by Vranitzky. In choosing Vranitzky as their ministerial leader, the Socialist Party of Austria (SPÖ) hoped to field a person who would appeal to the increasingly middle-of-the-road Austrian electorate and who could work in a coalition government with the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) should this prove necessary—as it indeed did. Vranitzky pulled the Socialists out of their Small Coalition with Jörg Haider’s increasingly right-wing Freedom Party. From 1987 to 1997, Vranitzky served as chancellor in a Great Coalition with the opposition ÖVP. The Socialists held the ministries of finance, interior, social affairs, and transport and state industries; the ÖVP received the portfolios for defense, agriculture, science, trade, and foreign affairs. Alois Mock, the vice-chancellor, was the head of the Foreign Office. From 1988 to 1997, Vranitzky was also the head of the SPÖ itself.
   Although recognizing that Austria had to bring its mounting budget deficits under control and rationalize its increasingly unproductive state industries, Vranitzky moved very cautiously on these fronts. Both parties in the coalition were, in fact, reluctant to anger voters with the austerity program that would inevitably accompany such reforms. However, Vranitzky did not push to enlarge the nationalized sector of the Austrian economy, nor to equalize incomes any further. Vranitzky did, however, support Austrian entry into the European Union, a position that Mock endorsed vigorously. Highly popular, Vranitzky was chiefly interested in domestic politics. Many members of the international community, however, refused to have anything to do with Kurt Waldheim, whose time in office as Austrian president coincided with several years of Vranitzy’s chancellorship. Therefore, both Vranitzky and Mock found themselves performing representational functions normally reserved to the president. Following his withdrawal from active political life early in 1997, Vranitzky has served, among other things, as a special envoy of the United Nations to deal with the Albanian–Serbian crisis.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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