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Half a Century of Little Change within the Austrian Legislative Elite. A Prosopographical Study of ÖVP and SPÖ Members of Parliament (1945-2019)

Korom, Philipp

To understand how legislative recruitment has changed over time this article investigates the career profiles of all members (N=1,158) of the Austrian National Council (Nationalrat) between 1945 and 2019 that either represented Austria´s Social Democrats (SPÖ) or People´s Party (ÖVP). Career profiles prove rather stable over time, suggesting that parties stick to established recruitment practices. Most party members are rooted in local/regional party branches/suborganisations and either directly enter the Nationalrat or rise through the party machine, which is evidence for decentralised selection processes. Minor gradual change within stable recruitment systems is found to stem from power shifts within parties caused by the diminishing role of trade unions within the SPÖ and of farmers´ organisations within the ÖVP. The case studies suggest that new legislative elites can only expect to arise in case of fundamental reforms such as the introduction of binding primaries. 

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