Bruno Kreisky

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Bruno Kreisky
Bruno Kreisky (cropped).jpg
Kreisky, photographed in 1983
17th Chancellor of Austria
In office
21 April 1970 24 May 1983
President Franz Jonas
Rudolf Kirchschläger
Deputy Rudolf Häuser
Hannes Androsch
Fred Sinowatz
Preceded by Josef Klaus
Succeeded by Fred Sinowatz
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
16 July 1959 19 April 1966
Chancellor Julius Raab
Preceded byJulius Raab
Succeeded by Lujo Tončić-Sorinj
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party
In office
1 February 1967 October 1983
Preceded by Bruno Pittermann
Succeeded by Fred Sinowatz
Personal details
Born(1911-01-22)22 January 1911 [1]
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died29 July 1990(1990-07-29) (aged 79)
Vienna, Austria
Political party Social Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Vera Fürth (m. 1942; 2 children) (died 1988)
Alma mater University of Vienna

Bruno Kreisky (22 January 1911 – 29 July 1990) was an Austrian politician who served as Foreign Minister from 1959 to 1966 and as Chancellor from 1970 to 1983. He is considered perhaps Austria's most successful Socialist leader, and a figure who parlayed a small country's neutrality into a major moral and political role on the world stage. Aged 72 at the end of his chancellorship, he was the oldest Chancellor after World War II. His 13-year tenure was the longest of any Chancellor in republican Austria.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising nine federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly nine million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

Chancellor of Austria Head of government of the Republic of Austria

The Chancellor of Austria is the head of government of the Austrian Republic. The chancellor chairs and leads the cabinet, which is composed of the Chancellor, the vice chancellor and the ministers. Together with the president, who is head of state, the cabinet forms the country's executive branch leadership.

Contents

Life and political career

Kreisky was born in Margareten, a district of Vienna, to a non-observant Jewish family. His parents were Max Kreisky (1876, Klatovy – 1944) [2] and Irene Felix Kreisky née Felix (1884, Třebíč – 1969). [3] His father worked as a textile manufacturer. [4] Shocked by the level of poverty and violence in Austria during the 1920s, he joined the youth wing of the Socialist Party of Austria (SPÖ) in 1925 at age 15. In 1927, he joined the Young Socialist Workers against the wishes of his parents. In 1929, he began studying law at the University of Vienna at the advice of Otto Bauer, who urged him to study law rather than medicine, as he had originally planned. He remained politically active during this period. In 1931, he left the Jewish religious community, becoming agnostic. [4] In 1934, when the Socialist Party was banned by the Dollfuss dictatorship, he became active in underground political work. He was arrested in January 1935 and convicted of high treason, but was released in June 1936. In March 1938 the Austrian state was incorporated into Germany through the Anschluss , and in September Kreisky escaped the Nazi persecution of Austrian Jews and the coming Holocaust by emigrating to Sweden, where he remained until 1945. On 23 April 1942, he married Vera Fürth (30 December 1916 – 5 December 1988). [5] and had one son and one daughter.

Margareten 5th District of Vienna in Austria

Margareten is the fifth district of Vienna. It is near the old town of Vienna and was established as a district in 1850, but borders changed later. Margareten is a residential urban area, with over 25,000 inhabitants per km², one of the most densely populated districts in Vienna.

Vienna Capital city and state of Austria

Vienna is the federal capital, largest city and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today it is the second largest German-speaking city after Berlin and just before Hamburg. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Klatovy Town in Czech Republic

Klatovy is a town in the Plzeň Region of the Czech Republic.

He returned to Austria in May 1946, but he was soon back in Stockholm, assigned to the Austrian legation. In 1951 he returned to Vienna, where Federal President Theodor Körner appointed him Assistant Chief of Staff and political adviser. In 1953 he was appointed Undersecretary in the Foreign Affairs Department of the Austrian Chancellery. In this position he took part in negotiating the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, which ended the four-power occupation of Austria and restored Austria's independence and neutrality.

Stockholm Capital city in Södermanland and Uppland, Sweden

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 965,232 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.6 million in the urban area, and 2.4 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Outside the city to the east, and along the coast, is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the county seat of Stockholm County.

Austrian State Treaty 1955 multilateral treaty regarding the international status of Austria

The Austrian State Treaty or Austrian Independence Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state. It was signed on 15 May 1955 in Vienna, at the Schloss Belvedere among the Allied occupying powers and the Austrian government. It officially came into force on 27 July 1955.

Kreisky was elected to the Austrian parliament, the Nationalrat as a Socialist during the 1956 election. He was elected to the Party Executive along with Bruno Pittermann, Felix Slavik, and Franz Olah, and thus became a member of the central leadership body of the party. After the 1959 election, he became Foreign Minister in the coalition cabinet of Chancellor Julius Raab (ÖVP), a post he continued to hold under Raab's successors Alfons Gorbach (1961–1964) and Josef Klaus (1964–1966). He played a leading role in setting up the European Free Trade Association, helped solve the South Tyrol question with Italy, and proposed a "Marshall Plan" for the countries of the Third World.

1956 Austrian legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Austria on 13 May 1956. The result was a victory for the Austrian People's Party, which won 82 of the 165 seats in the National Council. Voter turnout was 96.0%. Although the ÖVP had come up one seat short of an absolute majority, ÖVP leader and Chancellor Julius Raab retained the grand coalition with the Socialists, with the SPÖ leader Adolf Schärf as Vice-Chancellor.

Bruno Pittermann Austrian politician

Bruno Pittermann was an Austrian social democrat politician. He served as both the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Austria from 1957 to 1967, and the Vice Chancellor of Austria from 1957 to 1966. From 1964 to 1976, he was president of the Socialist International.

Franz Olah was an Austrian politician who served as the country's Interior Minister from 1963 until 1964 as a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ).

In 1966, the ÖVP under Klaus won an absolute majority in the Nationalrat. Although Klaus could have governed alone, memories of the hyperpartisanship that characterized the First Republic were still very strong, and he wanted to continue the grand coalition that had governed since 1945. However, talks between Klaus and Kreisky broke down. Kreisky resigned from cabinet, and the ÖVP formed the first one-party government of the Second Republic. However, the Socialists were not completely shut out of power; they were informally consulted on all major decisions.

In February 1967, Kreisky was elected chairman of the Socialist Party. At the March 1970 elections, the Socialists won 81 seats, two short of a majority. Kreisky became the first Socialist Chancellor since 1920, heading the first purely left-wing government in modern Austrian history. He was also Austria's first Jewish Chancellor. Kreisky's government was tolerated by the then national-liberals Freedom Party of Austria in return for electoral reforms that were intended to give smaller parties a greater voice. Following the passage of these reforms, he called fresh elections in October 1971. At these elections, the Socialists won a sweeping victory, winning a strong majority government with 93 seats. They also won half the popular vote, something no Austrian party had ever achieved in a free election. Kreisky was reelected in 1975 and 1979 elections, each time winning comfortable majorities in the Nationalrat.

1970 Austrian legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Austria on 1 March 1970. The result was a victory for the Socialist Party, which won 81 of the 165 seats to become the largest party for the first time in the Second Republic, only two seats short of a majority. Bruno Kreisky of the Social Democrats became Chancellor at the head of a minority government that was tolerated by the Freedom Party of Austria in return for electoral reform that favoured smaller parties. Voter turnout was 91.8%. It was the first Socialist-led government since 1920, and the first purely left-wing government in Austrian history.

Freedom Party of Austria political party in Austria

The Freedom Party of Austria is a right-wing populist, national-conservative political party in Austria. The party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache from April 2005 until May 2019, is a member of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament, as well as of the Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom.

1971 Austrian legislative election election in Austria which resulted in the winning of the Socialist Party

Early parliamentary elections were held in Austria on 10 October 1971, following electoral reforms which increased the number of seats in the National Council from 165 to 183 and increased the proportionality of the seat distribution.

Kreisky turned 70 in 1981, and by this time the voters had become increasingly uncomfortable with what they saw as his complacency and preoccupation with international issues. At the 1983 election, the Socialists lost their absolute majority in the Nationalrat. Kreisky declined to form a minority government and resigned, nominating Fred Sinowatz, his Minister of Education, as his successor. His health was declining, and in 1984 he had an emergency kidney transplant. During his final years he occasionally made bitter remarks directed at his party, who had made him their honorary chairman. He died in Vienna in July 1990. [6]

1983 Austrian legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Austria on 24 April 1983. The result was a victory for the Socialist Party, which won 90 of the 183 seats. However, the Socialists lost the outright majority they had held since 1971, prompting Bruno Kreisky to stand down as SPÖ leader and Chancellor in favour of Fred Sinowatz. The SPÖ stayed in office by entering into a coalition government with the Freedom Party of Austria, which at this point was a liberal party. Voter turnout was 92.6%.

Fred Sinowatz austrian philosopher and chancellor

Alfred "Fred" Sinowatz was an Austrian politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), who served as Chancellor of Austria from 1983 to 1986. Prior to becoming Chancellor, he had served as Minister of Education from 1971 to 1983 and Vice-Chancellor from 1981 to 1983.

Kidney internal organ in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found in vertebrates. They are located on the left and right in the retroperitoneal space, and in adult humans are about 11 centimetres (4.3 in) in length. They receive blood from the paired renal arteries; blood exits into the paired renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.

Political views and programs

Kreisky (left) with Abul Fateh in Vienna, 1962. Kreisky (left) with Fateh 1962.jpg
Kreisky (left) with Abul Fateh in Vienna, 1962.

In office, Kreisky and his close ally, Justice Minister Christian Broda, pursued a policy of liberal reform, in a country which had a tradition of conservative Roman Catholicism. He reformed Austria's family law and its prisons, and he decriminalised abortion and homosexuality. Nevertheless, he sought to bridge the gap between the Catholic Church and the Austrian Socialist movement and found a willing collaborator in the then Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Franz König. Kreisky promised to reduce the mandatory military service from nine to six months. After his election, military service was reduced to eight months (if performed in one stretch, or six months plus eight weeks if broken into two segments).

During Kreisky's premiership, a wide range of progressive reforms was carried out. [7] Amongst other reforms, employee benefits were expanded, the workweek was cut to 40 hours, and legislation providing for equality for women was passed. Kreisky's government established language rights for the country's Slovene and Croatian minorities. Following the 1974 oil shock, Kreisky committed Austria to developing nuclear power to reduce dependence on oil, although this policy was eventually abandoned after a referendum held in 1978. A moderate reform of the penal code was carried out, discrimination against illegitimate children was eliminated, marriage grants were introduced, mother-child pass (a pre-natal/post-natal care and infant health program) was established, a major reform of the penal code was carried out, and sex equality legislation was passed. In addition, four weeks of annual vacation were introduced, the office of ombudsman was established, the law of parentage was reordered, consumer protection legislation was passed, and social security coverage of the self-employed was introduced. [8] In 1979, restrictions on redundancy and the dismissal of employees were made. [9]

Widows' pensions were indexed in 1970, and in 1972, free medical checks for healthy people were made available, while optional health insurance for students was introduced. Periods of study, illness, and unemployment were allowed pensionable status, and in 1974 family and birth benefits were indexed. [10] The 1973 Special Subsidies Act introduced subsidies for those made redundant as a result of structural changes. The Wage Continuation Act of 1974 introduced wage continuation for workers in private enterprises in cases of sickness. In 1976, accident insurance was extended to work-related activities. The Night-shift/Heavy Manual Work Act of 1981 introduced preventive healthcare and a special early retirement pension for heavy manual workers. [11]

Full sick pay was extended to blue-collar unions in 1974, and family benefits were expanded to include full school transport (1971), a marriage payment (1972), payment for school books (1974), and a birth payment (1976). In 1978, due to a change from tax allowances to direct payments for children, family benefits increased significantly. Between 1973 and 1980, expenditure on health and education rose on average by 13.7% and by 12.9% per annum respectively. In education, pupil/teacher ratios fell sharply and a new university law was passed in 1975 in order to make higher education more democratic. [12] The educational sector was significantly expanded under Kreisky, greatly increasing the numbers of Austrians receiving a university education. [13]

The 1972 Crime Victims Act established the principles of compensation for health damages caused (directly or indirectly) by crimes punishable by more than 6 months' imprisonment. The 1974 Town Renovation Act dealt with the renovation of residential town areas, while the 1975 Housing Property Act established the property rights of house- and flat-owners. In 1975, housing supplements were extended to cover costs of housing improvements. In 1974, the work prohibiting periods before and after work birth were extended up to 8 weeks, and in 1976 the regulations were extended to adoptive mothers. A 1981 law adapted pension schemes to changes in the families' loads equalisation scheme, and introduced a widowers' pension equivalent to the widows' pension. In 1976, accident insurance for pupils and students was introduced, while an act passed that same year enabled people to undertake the care of close relatives who were ill. [14] Under the Bankruptcy Wage Continuation Act of 1979, claims against bankrupt firms were paid from a special fund. [15] In 1982, a maternity allowance payable for 16 weeks was introduced for self-employed women. [16]

Kreisky played a prominent role in international affairs, promoting dialogue between North Korea and South Korea, and working with like-minded European leaders such as Willy Brandt and Olof Palme to promote peace and development. Although the 1955 State Treaty prevented Austria from joining the European Union, he supported European integration. Austria cast itself as a bridge between East and West, and Vienna was the site for some early rounds of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Kreisky questioned Zionism as a solution to the problems faced by the Jewish people, claiming that Jews were not an ethnic group or race, but rather a religious group. He even equated claims of the existence of the Jewish people as a distinctive nationality to Nazi claims of a Jewish race, and suggested that such ideas raised questions about Jewish dual loyalty. However, he did not oppose the existence of Israel or question the legitimacy of Israeli patriotism, and developed friendly relations with the Israeli Labor Party and the Peace Now movement, though he harshly criticized the Israeli right wing and the Likud party as fascists. Kreisky referred to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin as a terrorist, and had a stormy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir especially during the 1973 hostage taking. He once said that he was "the only politician in Europe Golda Meir can't blackmail." He cultivated friendly relations with Arab leaders such as Anwar Sadat and Muammar Gaddafi, and in 1980 Austria established relations with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He tried to use his position as a European Jewish Socialist to act as a mediator between Israel and the Arabs.

Kreisky was notable for his allegedly apologetic approach to former Nazi party members and contemporary far-right Austrian politicians. For example, Kreisky described far-right populist Jörg Haider as "a political talent worth watching". [17] Kreisky is alleged to have used coded anti-semitic language to attract right-wing voters in Austria[ citation needed ]. In 1967, neo-Nazi Austrian leader Norbert Burger declared that he had no objections to Kreisky despite his Jewish background, claiming that he was simply a "German" and neither a religious Jew or a Zionist. Kreisky felt that he had never personally suffered as a Jew, but only as a socialist. While imprisoned for his socialist activities during the Dollfuss regime, many of his cellmates were active Nazis, and Kreisky accepted them as fellow political opponents[ citation needed ]. Following his election in 1970, Kreisky wanted to demonstrate that he was indeed "Chancellor of all Austrians", and appointed four politicians with Nazi backgrounds to his cabinet. When Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal reported that four members of Kreisky's cabinet were former Nazis, Kreisky did not remove them from the government, though one did resign. Kreisky responded that everybody had the right to make political mistakes in their youth. This incident marked the beginning of a bitter conflict, which did not end until Kreisky died. In 1986, Wiesenthal sued Kreisky for libel. Three years later the court found Kreisky guilty of defamation and forced him to pay a substantial fine. [18]

In 1976, the Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Outstanding Achievements in the Area of Human Rights was founded to mark Kreisky's 65th birthday. Every two years, the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Prize is awarded to an international figure who has advanced the cause of human rights.

Later in his life Kreisky tried to help some Soviet dissidents. In particular, in 1983 he sent a letter to the Soviet premier Yuri Andropov demanding the release of dissident Yuri Orlov, but Andropov left Kreisky's letter unanswered. [19]

Legacy

Today, Kreisky's premiership is the subject of both controversy and nostalgia. Many of his former supporters see in Kreisky the last socialist of the old school and look back admiringly at an era when the standard of living was noticeably rising, when the welfare state was in full swing and when, by means of a state-funded programme promoting equality of opportunity, working class children were encouraged to stay on at school and eventually receive higher education. All this resulted in a decade of prosperity and optimism about the future.

Conservatives criticise Kreisky's policy of deficit spending, expressed in his famous comment during the 1979 election campaign that he preferred that the state run up high debts rather than see people become unemployed. [20] They hold Kreisky responsible for Austria's subsequent economic difficulties. Despite this criticism, Kreisky did much to transform Austria during his time in office, with considerable improvements in working conditions, a dramatic rise in the average standard of living, [21] and a significant expansion of the welfare state, [22] [23] [24] and arguably remains the most successful socialist Chancellor of Austria.

See also

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References

  1. article Bruno Kreisky, Encyclopædia Britannica .
  2. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) 100th anniversary of the birth of Bruno Kreisky, 11 January 2011[ dead link ]
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/30/obituaries/bruno-kreisky-austria-s-leader-for-a-record-13-years-dies-at-79.html
  5. https://www.sozialversicherung.at/portal27/sec/portal/esv_enportal/content/contentWindow?contentid=10007.687468&action=2%5B%5D
  6. Austria under Social Democratic Rule: The Kreisky Years, H-net.org
  7. Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders, Volume 1, edited by A. T. Lane, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, p.513 (at Google Books)
  8. Biographical The Paradoxical Republic: Austria 1945–2005, Oliver Rathkolb, Berghahn Books, p. 224 (at Google Books)
  9. Growth to Limits: Appendix (synopses, bibliographies, tables), Peter Flora and Walter de Gruyter, 1987, p. 574 (at Google Books)
  10. Socialists in the Recession: The Search for Solidarity by Giles Radice and Lisanne Radice
  11. Political Leaders of Contemporary Western Europe: A Biographical Dictionary, David Wilsford, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, p. 263 (at Google Books)
  12. Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II Volume 4 edited by Peter Flora
  13. Growth to Limits: Appendix (synopses, bibliographies, tables), Peter Flora and Walter de Gruyter, 1987, p. 556 (at Google Books)
  14. Women and Social Security: Progress Towards Equality of Treatment, Anne-Marie Brocas, Anne-Marie Cailloux, Virginie Oget, International Labour Organization, 1990, p. 63, (at Google Books)
  15. "The Death of a Right-Wing Populist". Der Spiegel. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  16. Minicy Catom Software Engineering Ltd. www.catom.com. "Austria's Attitude Toward Israel: Following the European Mainstream". Jcpa.org. Archived from the original on 26 June 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  17. "Kreisky's letter along with Andropov's resolution on it" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  18. As quoted in Socialists in the Recession: The Search for Solidarity by Giles Radice and Lisanne Radice, "I am less worried about the budget deficits than by the need for the state to create jobs where private industry fails."
  19. "Austria",Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2001. © 1993–2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved
  20. The Vranitzky Era in Austria, Günter Bischof, Anton Pelinka, Ferdinand Karlhofer, Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 62 (at Google Books)
  21. A Concise History of Austria by Steven Beller
  22. The Kreisky Era in Austria, Günter Bischof, Anton Pelinka, Transaction Publishers, p. 100 (at Google Books)

Further reading


Political offices
Preceded by
Leopold Figl
Foreign Minister of Austria
1959 1966
Succeeded by
Lujo Tončić-Sorinj
Preceded by
Josef Klaus
Chancellor of Austria
1970 1983
Succeeded by
Fred Sinowatz
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bruno Pittermann
SPÖ Party chairman
1967 1983
Succeeded by
Fred Sinowatz
Preceded by
Flag of the United States.svg Prentis C. Hale
President of Organizing Committee for Winter Olympic Games
1964
Succeeded by
Flag of France.svg Jean de Beaumont
Preceded by
Flag of Japan.svg Kogoro Uemura
President of Organizing Committee for Winter Olympic Games
1976
Succeeded by
Flag of the United States.svg Rev J. Bernard Fell
Academic offices
Preceded by
Simone Veil
College of Europe Orateur
1981
Succeeded by
Gaston Thorn