Kurt Josef Waldheim (21 December 1918 - 14 June 2007) was an Austrian diplomat and politician best known for serving as the 4th Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 until 1977. Waldheim was previously the foreign minister of Austria in the first two Josef Klaus Cabinets, the head of Austrian intelligence in the early 1960s, the minister for defence in the second Figl Cabinet, the deputy foreign minister in the Julius Raab cabinet under then-foreign minister Klaus, and was a military intelligence officer during the Second World War active in the Balkan front. After stepping down as head of the United Nations in July of 1977, Waldheim was chosen by the Christian Social Party, and later the People's Alliance (VA) of his home province of Lower Austria to serve as Provinz-Kanzler from 1977 until 1994, when he retired permanently from politics and was replaced by Erwin Pröll.

As an internationally-recognized diplomat and key figure for several decades in Austrian center-right politics, Waldheim was often discussed as a potential future Chancellor, particularly in the 1970s after he returned from the UN. His name was floated as a compromise candidate during the 1994 VA leadership crisis, and many suspected Waldheim's retirement was part of a bid to accept the Chancellorship were Mock to be overthrown by his caucus. However, Waldheim refused to enter the fray and remained retired. As a respected figure, Waldheim is often referred to as "the greatest Chancellor Austria never had" and is the only non-monarch or non-Chancellor afforded a state funeral since the creation of the Kingdom of Austria.

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