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The Economics of the Third Way

Experiences from Around the World

Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer

The ‘third way’ is a term often used by politicians and others to indicate a set of new policies adopted by former social democratic parties throughout the world. This book is an attempt to dissect the ideas and economic theory behind the rhetoric of the ‘third way’ through a critical evaluation of the experiences of ‘third way’ administrations in a diverse range of countries.
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Chapter 9: The Austrian Way: economic and social partnership

Ewald Walterskirchen


Ewald Walterskirchen When I accepted the proposal to write a chapter on the Third Way in Austria, I could not imagine that the millennium would start for Austria with a conservative-nationalist government coalition of Schüssel and Haider and EU sanctions on Austria. These sanctions did not harm business, as may have been expected, but according to all polls they did harm the opposition parties and favour the existing government. What remains is long-term damage to Austria’s international image. In the 1970s and 1980s, Austria was a kind of model for Europe, now it is a warning. While nationalist slogans dominated the election campaign of Haider’s liberal party, the written programme of the new government does not show any signs of xenophobic policies. It is rather of the Reagan-Thatcher type - a programme to hurt the clientele of the social democrats by fiscal consolidation packages and at the same time raising expenditures and cutting non-wage labour costs for the clientele of the ruling parties (entrepreneurs, farmers and families). Under these political circumstances, talking about the ‘Austrian way’ means talking about the past and possible scenarios for the future. 9.1 SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP One of the characteristics of Austria’s economic and social development was the high degree of consensus. Social partnership was the cornerstone of the Austrian model of consensus in the last five decades. It was invented as a reaction to Austria’s Civil War in the 1930s (‘never again’) and as a national alliance against the occupying powers after the war....

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