The making of Red Vienna: social democracy in opposition 1889 to 1918

Shearer, Frederic (2017) The making of Red Vienna: social democracy in opposition 1889 to 1918. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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At the end of the Great War, in contrast to events in Germany, Russia and indeed Hungary, Austria’s transition to constitutional democracy was peaceful, led by their Social Democratic Party. The party had been created out of the disparate socialist factions only 30 years before.

This paper examines, beginning with the unification of the party, the leaders themselves, their strategy, their tactics, their programme and their results at the dawn of the First Republic. The context will be furnished by their approach to the ‘nationalities question’, their campaign for direct and equal suffrage, their attitude to the institutions of the Monarchy, their social programme and finally their handling of the war. It will be evident that the conventional assessment of this process needs to be re-thought extensively.

The Social Democrats offered an intriguing, well explained approach to the ‘nationalities question’ while the protagonists themselves were merely horse trading. During the period in question, they campaigned tirelessly from the outset for a franchise which recognised all the adults in their society. They chose to participate fully in the governing process, making conscientious use of the opportunities, such as they were, presented by the Habsburg parliamentary structure to further their programme. They conceived and advocated reforms in practical detail which would, and ultimately did, benefit the population as a whole and particularly their constituents. They made good use of the demonstration as a campaign tactic, though that became problematical. Finally, presented with a war they had unequivocally and publicly opposed, they devised an approach which on the one hand caused the least harm and on the other placed them in a position where their erstwhile opponents accepted their lead at a delicate juncture, when the shooting stopped.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2022 14:06
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 14:06


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