Austrian People's Party

The Austrian People's Party (German: Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) is a conservative[1][2] and Christian-democratic[3][4][5] political party in Austria.

Austrian People's Party

Österreichische Volkspartei
ChairmanSebastian Kurz
Secretary-GeneralKarl Nehammer
Parliamentary leaderAugust Wöginger [de]
Managing directorAxel Melchior [de]
Founded17 April 1945; 75 years ago (1945-04-17)
HeadquartersLichtenfelsgasse 7 A-1010 Vienna, Austria
Youth wingYoung People's Party
Christian democracy[3][4][5]
Liberal conservatism[6]
Economic liberalism[8]
Right-wing populism[9]
Political positionCentre-right[10] to right-wing[11]
European affiliationEuropean People's Party
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
European Parliament groupEuropean People's Party
Colours  Turquoise (since 2017)
  Black (before 2017)
National Council
71 / 183
Federal Council
25 / 61
6 / 9
State cabinets
7 / 9
State diets
156 / 440
European Parliament
7 / 19

Since May 2017, the party has been led by Sebastian Kurz. It is currently the largest party in the National Council, with 71 of the 183 seats, and won 37.5% of votes cast in the 2019 legislative election. It holds seats in all nine state legislatures, and is part of government in seven, of which it leads six. The ÖVP is a member of the International Democrat Union and the European People's Party. It sits with the EPP group in the European Parliament; of Austria's 19 MEPs, 7 are members of the ÖVP.

An unofficial successor to the Christian Social Party of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ÖVP was founded immediately following the re-establishment of the Republic of Austria in 1945. Since then, it has been one of the two traditional major parties in Austria, alongside the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ). It was the most popular party until 1970, and has traditionally governed in a grand coalition with the SPÖ. It was the senior partner in grand coalitions from 1945 to 1966 and the junior partner from 1986 to 2000 and 2007–2017. The ÖVP also briefly governed alone from 1966 to 1970. After the 1999 election, the party formed a coalition with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) which lasted until 2007.

The party underwent a change in its image after Sebastian Kurz became chairman, changing its colour from the traditional black to turquoise, and adopting the alternate name The new People's Party (German: Die neue Volkspartei).[12] It became the largest party after the 2017 election, and formed a coalition with the FPÖ.[13] This collapsed eighteen months later, leading to the 2019 election, after which the ÖVP formed a new coalition with The Greens.[14]


The ÖVP is conservative. For most of its existence, it has explicitly defined itself as Catholic and anti-socialist, with the ideals of subsidiarity as defined by the encyclical Quadragesimo anno and decentralisation.

For the first election after World War II, the ÖVP presented itself as the Austrian Party (German: die österreichische Partei), was anti-Marxist and regarded itself as the Party of the center (German: Partei der Mitte). The ÖVP consistently held power—either alone or in so-called black–red coalition with the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ)—until 1970, when the SPÖ formed a minority government with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). The ÖVP's economic policies during the era generally upheld a social market economy.

The party's campaign for the 2017 Austrian legislative election under the young chairman Sebastian Kurz was dominated by a rightward shift in policy which included a promised crackdown on illegal immigration and a fight against political Islam,[15] making it more similar to the program of the FPÖ, the party that Kurz chose as his coalition partner after the ÖVP won the election.


The ÖVP is the successor of the Christian Social Party, a staunchly conservative movement founded in 1893 by Karl Lueger, mayor of Vienna and highly controversial right-wing populist. Most of the members of the party during its founding belonged to the former Fatherland Front, which was led by chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, also a member of the Christian Social Party before the Anschluss. While still sometimes honored by ÖVP members for resisting Adolf Hitler, the regime built by Dollfuss was authoritarian in nature and has been dubbed as Austrofascism. In its present form, the ÖVP was established immediately after the restoration of Austria's independence in 1945 and it has been represented in both the Federal Assembly ever since. In terms of Federal Assembly seats, the ÖVP has consistently been the strongest or second-strongest party and as such it has led or at least been a partner in most Austria's federal cabinets.

In the 1945 Austrian legislative election, the ÖVP won a landslide victory in Austria's first postwar election, winning almost half the popular vote and an absolute majority in the legislature. However, memories of the hyper-partisanship that had plagued the First Republic prompted the ÖVP to maintain the grand coalition with the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) and the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) that had governed the country since the restoration of independence in early 1945. The ÖVP remained the senior partner in a coalition with the SPÖ until 1966 and governed alone from 1966 to 1970. It reentered the government in 1986, but has never been completely out of power since the restoration of Austrian independence in 1945 due to a longstanding tradition that all major interest groups were to be consulted on policy.

After the 1999 Austrian legislative election, several months of negotiations ended in early 2000 when the ÖVP formed a coalition government with the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) led by Jörg Haider. The FPÖ had won just a few hundred more votes than the ÖVP, but was considered far too controversial to lead a government. The ÖVP's Wolfgang Schüssel became Chancellor—the first ÖVP Chancellor of Austria since 1970. This caused widespread outrage in Europe and the European Union imposed informal diplomatic sanctions on Austria, the first time that it imposed sanctions on a member state. Bilateral relations were frozen (including contacts and meetings at an inter-governmental level) and Austrian candidates would not be supported for posts in European Union international offices.[16] Austria threatened to veto all applications by countries for European Union membership until the sanctions were lifted.[17] A few months later, these sanctions were dropped as a result of a fact-finding mission by three former European prime ministers, the so-called "three wise men". The 2002 legislative election resulted in a landslide victory (42.27% of the vote) for the ÖVP under Schüssel. Haider's FPÖ was reduced to 10.16% of the vote. At the state level, the ÖVP has long dominated the rural states of Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg. It is less popular in the city state of Vienna and in the rural, but less strongly Catholic states of Burgenland and Carinthia. In 2004, it lost its plurality in the State of Salzburg, where they kept its result in seats (14) in 2009. In 2005, it lost its plurality in Styria for the first time.

After the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) split from the FPÖ in 2005, the BZÖ replaced the FPÖ in the government coalition which lasted until 2007. Austria for the first time had a government containing of a party that was founded during the parliamentary term. In the 2006 Austrian legislative election, the ÖVP were defeated and after much negotiations agreed to become junior partner in a grand coalition with the SPÖ, with new party chairman Wilhelm Molterer as Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor under SPÖ leader Alfred Gusenbauer, who became Chancellor. The 2008 Austrian legislative election saw the ÖVP lose 15 seats, with a further 8.35% decrease in its share of the vote. However, the ÖVP won the largest share of the vote (30.0%) in the 2009 European Parliament election with 846,709, votes, although their number of seats remained the same.

Chairpersons since 1945Edit

The chart below shows a timeline of ÖVP chairpersons and the Chancellors of Austria. The left black bar shows all the chairpersons (Bundesparteiobleute, abbreviated as CP) of the ÖVP party and the right bar shows the corresponding make-up of the Austrian government at that time. The red (SPÖ) and black (ÖVP) colours correspond to which party led the federal government (Bundesregierung, abbreviated as Govern.). The last names of the respective Chancellors are shown, with the Roman numeral standing for the cabinets.

Sebastian KurzReinhold MitterlehnerMichael SpindeleggerJosef PröllWilhelm MoltererWolfgang SchüsselErhard BusekJosef RieglerAlois MockJosef TausKarl SchleinzerHermann WithalmJosef KlausAlfons GorbachJulius RaabLeopold FiglLeopold Kunschak

Election resultsEdit

National CouncilEdit

National Council
Election Votes % Seats Government
1945 1,602,227 (1st) 49.8%
85 / 165
ÖVP–SPÖ–KPÖ majority
1949 1,846,581 (1st) 44.0%
77 / 165
ÖVP–SPÖ majority
1953 1,781,777 (2nd) 41.3%
74 / 165
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
1956 1,999,986 (1st) 46.0%
82 / 165
ÖVP–SPÖ majority
1959 1,928,043 (2nd) 44.2%
79 / 165
ÖVP–SPÖ majority
1962 2,024,501 (1st) 45.4%
81 / 165
ÖVP–SPÖ majority
1966 2,191,109 (1st) 48.3%
85 / 165
ÖVP majority
1970 2,051,012 (2nd) 44.7%
78 / 165
In opposition
1971 1,964,713 (2nd) 43.1%
80 / 183
In opposition
1975 1,981,291 (2nd) 42.9%
80 / 183
In opposition
1979 1,981,739 (2nd) 41.9%
77 / 183
In opposition
1983 2,097,808 (2nd) 43.2%
81 / 183
In opposition
1986 2,003,663 (2nd) 41.3%
77 / 183
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
1990 1,508,600 (2nd) 32.1%
60 / 183
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
1994 1,281,846 (2nd) 27.7%
52 / 183
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
1995 1,370,510 (2nd) 28.3%
52 / 183
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
1999 1,243,672 (3rd) 26.9%
52 / 183
ÖVP–FPÖ majority
2002 2,076,833 (1st) 42.3%
79 / 183
ÖVP–FPÖ majority
2006 1,616,493 (2nd) 34.3%
66 / 183
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
2008 1,269,656 (2nd) 26.0%
51 / 183
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
2013 1,125,876 (2nd) 24.0%
47 / 183
SPÖ–ÖVP majority
2017 1,341,930 (1st) 31.5%
62 / 183
ÖVP–FPÖ majority
2019 1,789,417 (1st) 37.5%
71 / 183
ÖVP–GRÜNE majority


Federal Presidency of the Republic of Austria
Election Candidate First round Second round
Votes % Result Votes % Result
1951 Heinrich Gleißner 1,725,451 40.1% Runner-up 2,006,322 47.9% Lost
1957 Wolfgang Denk 2,159,604 48.9% Lost
1963 Julius Raab 1,814,125 40.6% Lost
1965 Alfons Gorbach 2,324,436 49.3% Lost
1971 Kurt Waldheim 2,224,809 47.2% Lost
1974 Alois Lugger 2,238,470 48.3% Lost
1980 Rudolf Kirchschläger 3,538,748 79.9% Won
1986 Kurt Waldheim 2,343,463 49.6% Runner-up 2,464,787 53.9% Won
1992 Thomas Klestil 1,728,234 37.2% Runner-up 2,528,006 56.9% Won
1998 Thomas Klestil 2,644,034 63.4% Won
2004 Benita Ferrero-Waldner 1,969,326 47.6% Lost
2010 No candidate
2016 Andreas Khol 475,767 11.1% 5th place

European ParliamentEdit

European Parliament
Election Votes % Seats
1996 1,124,921 (1st) 29.7%
7 / 21
1999 859,175 (2nd) 30.7%
7 / 21
2004 817,716 (2nd) 32.7%
6 / 18
2009 858,921 (1st) 30.0%
6 / 17
2014 761,896 (1st) 27.0%
5 / 18
2019 1,305,954 (1st) 34.6%
7 / 18

State ParliamentsEdit

State Year Votes % Seats Government
No. +/- Pos.
Burgenland 2020 56,728 30.6 (2nd)  
11 / 36
  0   2nd Opposition
Carinthia 2018 45,438 15.4 (3rd)  
6 / 36
  1   3rd SPÖ–ÖVP
Lower Austria 2018 450,812 49.6 (1st)  
29 / 56
  1   1st ÖVP–SPÖ–FPÖ
Salzburg 2018 94,642 37.8 (1st)  
15 / 36
  4   1st ÖVP–Grüne–NEOS
Styria 2019 217,036 36.0 (1st)  
18 / 48
  4   1st ÖVP–SPÖ
Tyrol 2018 141,691 44.3 (1st)  
17 / 36
  1   1st ÖVP–Grüne
Upper Austria 2015 316,290 36.4 (1st)  
21 / 56
  7   1st ÖVP–FPÖ–SPÖ–Grüne
Vienna 2020 148,238 20.4 (2nd)  
22 / 100
  15   2nd Opposition
Vorarlberg 2019 71,911 43.5 (1st)  
17 / 36
  1   1st ÖVP–Grüne



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  8. ^ Country Profile: Austria. The Unit. 2001. p. 9.
  9. ^ Tóth, Barbara (7 January 2020). "Austria's political experiment". International Politics and Society.
  10. ^
  11. ^
    • "Austria's new government is a first—a Conservative-Green coalition". The Economist. 7 January 2020. But on January 7th Mr Kogler, who led the party to a string of electoral successes last year, and three of his comrades were sworn in to government as junior partners to the right-wing Austrian People's Party (ÖVP).
    • "Who's fired?". Financial Times. 30 September 2019. His rightwing Austrian People's Party posted a projected 37 per cent in Sunday's general election, as both the Social Democrats and the far-right Freedom Party — Mr Kurz's allies in the government that collapsed in May — fell back.
    • "Austrian MPs vote to ban headscarves in primary schools". euronews. 16 May 2019. The law was tabled by the coalition government, made up of PM Sebastian Kurz' right-wing Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).
    • "What's at stake in Austria's legislative elections?". TRT World. 24 September 2019. That crisis—which saw the collapse of the coalition between the rightwing Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO)—stemmed from a controversial incident now known as the "Ibiza scandal".
  12. ^ "Our History". Austrian People's Party. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Austria election results: Far-right set to enter government as conservatives top poll". The Independent. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  14. ^ red, ORF at (1 January 2020). "Neue Regierung: Kurz und Kogler präsentierten Einigung". (in German). Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Make Austria Great Again — the rapid rise of Sebastian Kurz". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  16. ^ "The European Union's sanctions against Austria". WSWS. 22 February 2000. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  17. ^ McNeill, Donald G. (4 July 2000). "A Threat By Austria on Sanctions". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2012.

Further readingEdit

  • Binder, Dieter A. (2004). Gehler, Michael; Kaiser, Wolfram (eds.). 'Rescuing the Christian Occident': The People's Party in Austria. Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945. Routledge. pp. 121–134. ISBN 0-7146-5662-3.
  • Fallend, Franz (2004). Steven Van Hecke; Gerard, Emmanuel (eds.). The Rejuvenation of an 'Old Party'? Christian Democracy in Austria. Christian Democratic Parties in Europe Since the End of the Cold War. Leuven University Press. pp. 79–104. ISBN 90-5867-377-4.

External linksEdit