Fred Sinowatz, whose time as Austrian chancellor from 1983 to 1986 was overshadowed by several crises, died at the age of 79 on Monday, Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer said in a statement, dpa reported.
Sinowatz was head of government when Kurt Waldheim was elected as Austrian president in 1986. As head of the social democratic party at that time, Sinowatz was involved in the campaign against Waldheim, who had kept silent about his past in the German Wehrmacht during World War Two.
After Waldheim won the elections against the social democratic candidate, Sinowatz resigned as chancellor and, two years later, as party leader.
The son of a seamstress and a locksmith, Sinowatz was born in 1929 in Burgenland, Austria's easternmost province. After earning a doctorate in history from Vienna University, he took on a succession of posts in local politics in his home province, until he joined the federal government as education minister in 1971.
During Sinowatz' chancellorship, Austria gained notoriety for a wine scandal in 1985, when vintners were found to have put anti- freeze in their product.
Sinowatz also had to navigate through popular protests against a power plant on the Danube in 1984 and through a scandal involving arms shipments to Iraq and Iran in the early 1980s.