In Habsburg Austria-Hungary, "German-Austria" was an unofficial term for the areas of the empire inhabited by Austrian Germans.
On 12 October 1918, Emperor Charles I met with the leaders of the largest German parties. German Nationalists wanted a constitutional monarchy of free nations; Christian Socialists wanted to maintain monarchy and a federation of nations; Social Democrats wanted a republic that would either be a part of a federation of nations or join Germany.
On October 16, 1918, Emperor Charles I published a manifesto which offered to change Austria-Hungary into a federation of nationalities. This came too late as Czechs and Southern Slavs were well on their way to creating independent states. However, this gave an impulse to the Reichsrat of German-inhabited areas to meet.
With the impending collapse of the empire the 208 ethnic German deputies to the Cisleithanian Austrian parliament (Reichsrat) elected in 1911 met on 21 October 1918 and proclaimed itself to be a "Provisional National Assembly for German-Austria" representing the ethnic Germans in all Cisleithanian lands. It elected
Franz Dinghofer of the German National Movement, Jodok Fink of the Christian Social Party, and Karl Seitz of the Social Democratic Workers' Party as assembly presidents. The assembly included representatives from Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Silesia who refused to submit to the new state of Czechoslovakia which had been declared on 28 October 1918. It also proclaimed that "the German people in Austria are resolved to determine their own future political organization to form an independent German-Austrian state, and to regulate their relations with other nations through free agreements with them". On October 25 Provisional Assembly called on all German inhabited Lands to form their own provisional assemblies.
During its second meeting on October 30, the Provisional National Assembly created the basic institutions of the new state. The legislative power was assumed by the Provisional National Assembly while the executive power was entrusted to the newly created German-Austrian State Council.
On 11 November 1918, Emperor Charles I in all but name abdicated, by relinquishing his right to take part in Austrian affairs of state.
The next day, 12 November, the National Assembly officially declared German-Austria a republic and named Social Democrat Karl Renner as provisional chancellor. On the same day it drafted a provisional constitution that stated that "German-Austria is a democratic republic" (Article 1) and "German-Austria is an integral part of the German republic" (Article 2). The latter provision reflected the deputies' view that felt that Austria would lose so much territory in any peace settlement that it would no longer be economically and politically viable as a separate state, and the only course was union with Germany. This was enforced by the refusal of Hungary to sell grain and of Czechoslovakia to sell coal to Austria-Germany.
As the Empire collapsed and a ceasefire was announced, the Provisional Assembly sought to forestall socialist revolution by organizing a coalition government led by the minority Social Democrats. Karl Renner became Chancellor and Victor Adler became Foreign Minister. The Social Democrats co-opted newly created soldier and worker councils and used their control over labour unions to implement social policies that blunted the socialist appeal.