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The Politics of Nuclear Energy in Western Europe$
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Wolfgang C. Müller and Paul W. Thurner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747031

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198747031.001.0001

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Rejecting Nuclear Energy—From Party Competition Accident to State Doctrine

(p.98) 5 Austria
The Politics of Nuclear Energy in Western Europe
Wolfgang C. Müller
Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses nuclear energy policy in Austria since the 1950s. It stresses that political parties were the main actors and decision-making on energy policy was strongly influenced by them. Building on the work of Strøm (1990) and Müller and Strøm (1999) it is argued that several position changes regarding nuclear energy were made by Austrian parties in response to public opinion, trading policy against votes or office. The Austrian case resembled other Western European countries until the 1970s, when a nuclear power plant was built but never made operational because of a negative referendum. After a decade of struggling with attempts at policy reversal, an anti-nuclear consensus was reached after Chernobyl. Soon parties did engage in a new form of competition on the nuclear issue—over their competence in fighting nuclear energy in other countries, in particular, plants close to the Austrian border.

Keywords:   direct democracy, party competition, party goals, office-seeking, policy reversal, policy-seeking, referendum, vote-seeking

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