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Frauen stemmen die österreichische Fahne auf einem Wahlplakat der Bürgerlich Demokratischen Partei zur Nationalratswahl 1919
Wahlplakat der Bürgerlich Demokratischen Partei zur Nationalratswahl 1919

Wooed by the parties

When women obtained the right to vote, they became a target for canvassing. The gender roles were generally clearly differentiated in the advertising. The public image of politics was largely male dominated.

The campaign for the election to the National Constituent Assembly on February 16th 1919 was dominated – as throughout the First Republic – by class struggle issues. The conflict between socialism and capitalism and the struggle for a new political order in a Europe in chaos after the First World War also marked the political scene in Austria.

The first posters and flyers show how the parties targeted their canvassing specifically at women, the new electorate. Nevertheless the campaign issues for women were reduced almost entirely to the welfare of the family and the future for the children.

Nearly all the posters just portrayed men as political players. Women only appeared very occasionally and if they did, it was usually in the role of housewife and mother – as carers, mourners, sufferers. Some parties taking part in the election completely ignored the new female voters in their campaigns. It was only on the Civil Democratic Party’s posters that women were not depicted as housewives and mothers but as active participants in the development of the State.

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