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Austria (Political Parties)

Volume 464: debated on Monday 9 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can now give an assurance that the Austrian people will be free to decide the number of political parties contesting the next election; or if the present limitation to three parties will be maintained.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Control Commission in Austria have yet agreed to allow new political parties to be set up there in accordance with the Austrian Constitution and if not what action is being taken by the British element on the matter.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Allied Control Council in Vienna is preventing the recognition of any political parties in Austria other than the People's Party, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party; what is the attitude of the British element of the Control Council in this matter; and whether the embargo will be removed so as to enable such democratic parties as wish to prepare for the forthcoming elections to do so in good time.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he proposes to take to ensure that the Austrian people are free to exercise their democratic right to form new political parties.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will assure the House that any attempt to influence the course and results of the forthcoming elections in Austria by artificially restricting the number of parties who may contest the election will be vigorously resisted by His Majesty's Government.

His Majesty's Government have for some time been anxious that the Austrians should be free to form any new political parties they wish in accordance with the Austrian Constitution. The House will, however, appreciate that there are various other considerations which have to be taken into account, and one of them is the need for securing joint action by all four of the occupying powers in Austria. My right hon. Friend regrets that it has not yet been possible to obtain unanimity in this matter.

Is the Minister aware that his answer will give great satisfaction to all democratic opinion in Austria, here, America, or anywhere else; and can we depend on the vigorous action of the British Government to defend this principle in all quarters?

I think that my answer shows that we have done, and are doing, our best to ensure by our attitude that the Austrians are free to form new political parties if they wish to do so under the Constitution.

Will the Minister consider taking this matter up at a much higher level with the American and other Governments who participate in the Allied Council, and point out to them that their attitude in refusing to allow the Austrians to form new political parties strikes at the very root of the democratic basis of Western democracy and that there are very important principles which should be understood in this matter?

We had very full discussions with the French and United States Governments on this point.

Can the Minister say, apart from expressing general approval of this principle, when in fact it may be possible for the Austrians to form political parties as they wish?

Can my hon. Friend say which of the other Allied Powers are preventing the achievement of unanimity on this question?

We have discussed this question with the French and United States Governments and have not been able to reach agreement.

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that the efforts of His Majesty's Government, although so far unsuccessful, are by no means yet over, and that he will persist in this matter?

Can the Minister say definitely which Government is putting an obstacle in the way?

Will my hon. Friend see that this matter is brought to the personal attention of Mr. Dean Acheson, the American Secretary of State, because it seems to be a contradiction of all that he ever stood for that he should not in this matter express the same democratic opinion in his own country as he has expressed elsewhere?