History of Austria

ecognised by the Western Allies in October 1945 after some doubts that Renner could be Stalin's puppet. Thereby the creation of a separate Western Austrian government and the division of the country could be avoided. Austria, in general, was treated as though it had been originally invaded by Germany and liberated by the Allies.

On 15 May 1955, after talks which lasted for years and were influenced by the Cold War, Austria regained full independence by concluding the Austrian State Treaty with the Four Occupying Powers. On 26 October 1955, after all occupation troops had left, Austria declared its "permanent neutrality" by an act of parliament, which remains to this day but has been implicitly overlapped by constitutional amendments concerning Austria as member of the European Union from 1995 onwards.

The political system of the Second Republic is based on the constitution of 1920 and 1929, which was reintroduced in 1945. The system came to be characterised by Proporz, meaning that most posts of political importance were split evenly between members of the Social Democrats and the People's Party. Interest group "chambers" with mandatory membership (e.g. for workers, business people, farmers) grew to considerable importance and were usually consulted in the legislative process, so that hardly any legislation was passed that did not reflect widespread consensus. Since 1945 a single-party government took place only 1966–1970 (Conservatives) and 1970–1983 (Social Democrats). During all other legislative periods, either a grand coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats or a "small coalition" (one of these two and a smaller party) ruled the country.

Following a referendum in 1994, at which consent reached a majority of two thirds, the country became a member of the European Union on 1 January 1995.

The major parties SPÖ and ÖVP have contrary opinions about the future status of Austria's military non-alignment: While the SPÖ in