Federal Chancellor (Austria)

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Federal Chancellor of the
Republic of Austria
Coat of arms of the Republic of Austria
Sebastian Kurz (2018-02-28) (cropped) .jpg
Acting Federal Chancellor
Sebastian Kurz
since January 7, 2020
Official seat Federal Chancellery , Ballhausplatz , Vienna
Creation of office October 1, 1920 (Federal Constitution)
November 10, 1920
(entered into force)
position Head of government
State authority executive
Guarantee of existence Art. 19 para 1 i. V. m. Art. 69 para 1 B-VG
Appointment by Federal President
Salutation Mr. Federal Chancellor (normally)
Excellency (in international, diplomatic correspondence)
Deputy Vice Chancellor
website www.bundeskanzler.at

The Federal Chancellor is the head of government of the Republic of Austria , chairs and conducts the business of the federal government . In its entirety, this consists of the Federal Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor and the Federal Ministers . As a collegial body , they are entrusted with the highest administrative business of the federal government, insofar as these are not the responsibility of the Federal President ( Art. 69, Paragraph 1 B-VG ).

As head of government, the incumbent coordinates and represents government work in relation to parliament and the public. In a single government with only one party , he is the most powerful politician in the country in terms of realpolitik ; in coalition governments , his influence depends on the strength of his parliamentary group. The official seat of the Federal Chancellor is the Federal Chancellery on Ballhausplatz opposite the Presidential Chancellery in the Hofburg .

Sebastian Kurz has been the acting Federal Chancellor since January 7, 2020 .

Federal Chancellor and his cabinet


The appointment of the Chancellor takes place in 1929 (BGBl. 392/1929) since the constitutional amendment on 7 December by the Federal President (until then, the federal government has been prepared by the National Council elected), the de jure is completely free to choose the person de facto but on takes into account the majority in the National Council. Formal requirement to be thus appointed as chancellor as a member of the Federal Government and, according to Art. 70 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution, the eligibility of the National Council ( Art. 70Paragraph 2 B-VG). Furthermore, Paragraph 2 stipulates that “the members of the Federal Government […] do not [have to] belong to the National Council”. Conversely, this means that the Federal Chancellor and the other members of the government can also be members of the National Council at the same time, but this is no longer the case in Realpolitik, as was the case with Bruno Kreisky , for example .

The Federal Chancellor proposes to the Federal President the remaining members of the Federal Government for his cabinet appointment. The Federal Government (and with it the Federal Chancellor) is able to act immediately after swearing in and signing the appointment documents ; confirmation by the National Council is not required. The National Council can, however, at any time express the mistrust of the federal government or individual federal ministers , which obliges the federal president to dismiss the government or the government member. The Federal President also dismisses individual ministers at the suggestion of the Federal Chancellor. However, the head of state can dismiss the entire government without a proposal.

Term of office

The term of office of the Federal Chancellor is not limited in time, such as that of the Federal President or the National Council; the appointment is for an unlimited period. The appointment of the Federal Chancellor and the other Federal Ministers by the Federal President has nothing constitutionally to do with the elections to the National Council, nor with the term of office and the popular election of the Federal President. In fact, it mostly correlates with elections to the National Council.

The federal government normally submits its resignation ( resignation ) to the Federal President after a National Council election . The resigning government is "charged with the continuation of business" by the Federal President until a new government has been appointed and therefore remains in office until the new government is sworn in. The resignation is not legally mandatory, but it makes sense, as the Federal President could otherwise dismiss the government on his own initiative or the new National Council could express its mistrust (which would force the Federal President to dismiss).


The Federal Government can decide to resign at any time if it appears expedient for political reasons. The Federal President then has to appoint a new government. In this context, new elections only come about if the Federal President dissolves the National Council on the proposal of the government or if the National Council itself, which is often the case, decides to dissolve it.

The Federal Chancellor can also submit his resignation to the Federal President at any time independently of the rest of the government. This has only happened once in the Second Republic, when Werner Faymann was removed from office on May 9, 2016 at his request by the Federal President. At the same time, the previous Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner was entrusted with the provisional continuation of the administration of the Federal Chancellery and with the chairmanship of the remaining Federal Government Faymann II until the appointment of the new Federal Chancellor Christian Kern ( SPÖ ; Federal Government Kern ) on May 17, 2016.

Position of the Federal Chancellor in the state structure

In terms of protocol, the Federal Chancellor is in third place behind the Federal President and the Presidents of the National Council.

Formal framework

According to Art. 19 Para. 1 of the Federal Constitutional Act , "the highest executive bodies [...] are the Federal President, the Federal Ministers and State Secretaries as well as the members of the state governments." According to Art. 69 Para. 1 B-VG, “are with the highest administrative business of the Federation [...], as far as these have not been assigned to the Federal President, the Federal Chancellor, the Vice Chancellorand entrusts the other federal ministers. In their entirety, they form the Federal Government, chaired by the Federal Chancellor. ”The Federal Government acts as a collegial body and all members must decide jointly and unanimously. According to Art. 69, Paragraph 3, the Federal Government is quorate if more than half of its members are present.

As the head of the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Chancellor is also the Federal Minister, who is therefore not superordinate to the other Federal Ministers, as the head of the Federal Ministries assigned to them ( Art. 77 para 3 B-VG). His function as Chairman of the Federal Government according to Art. 69 Para. 1 (see above) also does not give him any legal superordinate role. As primus inter pares , unlike the German Chancellor , for example, he has no authority to issue guidelines with regard to the other members of the government .

Nevertheless, the position of the Federal Chancellor in the Austrian political system is outstanding, as the Federal Constitutional Law assigns to him, in addition to chairing his cabinet, a number of tasks that give him a special character in his legal position of the highest executive organs of the Federation . Among other things, at his suggestion, the Federal President appoints the remaining members of the Federal Government (Federal Ministers and State Secretaries) and dismisses them from the Government at his suggestion ( Art. 70 B-VG). However, for the Chancellor it would be in a typically existing coalition governmentAs a rule, it is politically inexpedient to propose a minister from his coalition partner for dismissal against his will, since the other party could then terminate the coalition - this would endanger the parliamentary majority (and thus the Chancellor himself). This happened, for example, in 2019 as a result of the Ibiza affair .

Realpolitical position

In realpolitical terms, the position of the Federal Chancellor - who is popularly referred to simply as the “Chancellor” - depends on his personal authority, the strength of the party he represents and his strength in this party. In public he is considered to be the main person responsible for the current politics of the country.

The Chancellor has more political clout and can pursue a more coherent policy if the Finance Minister is his ombudsman and acts together with him. Since government decisions have to be passed unanimously and the other ministers lack an overview of the total budget, the finance minister has a key position.

The first term of office of Wolfgang Schüssel , who in 2000 only headed the third strongest party, which also did not provide the finance minister , showed that the Federal Chancellor can achieve supremacy in real politics even without the typical realpolitical environment .

In the Austrian Federal Government, which was in office from December 2008 to May 2016, the Social Democratic Chancellor Werner Faymann faced the conservative Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Josef Pröll , so that the Chancellor's options were limited. Such a constellation enables a stalemate in the government. Coalition parties of almost equal strength often share the two offices (in 2000 the conservative Federal Chancellor and the liberal finance minister in the case of equal mandates in the National Council, from 2007 social democratic federal chancellor and conservative finance minister).

In times of the superiority of the larger coalition partner and high influence of the incumbent in his own party or in a sole government , as it existed in the Second Republic only under Chancellors Klaus and Kreisky , the Federal Chancellor has a significantly more powerful position in domestic politics.

Head of the Federal Government

The Federal Chancellor chairs the meetings of the Federal Government (Council of Ministers) that he calls (usually weekly), in which government work is formally coordinated. Government bills approved by the Council of Ministers - these are bills from ministries that have received the approval of all ministers after the so-called appraisal procedure (in which statements from all ministries, all federal states and many interest groups are obtained) and any subsequent draft corrections - the Chancellor heads for treatment in the Parliament to the Presidium of the National Council. According to the constitution, the Federal Chancellor has to countersign laws passed by parliament and signed ("notarized") by the Federal President. Laws become legally binding only with the signatures of these two state organs.Federal Law Gazette for the Republic of Austria to be published.

The Federal Chancellor can (as a result of the negotiations for the formation of his government) in the Federal Chancellery also manage matters that would otherwise fall to a minister. Before setting up an independent foreign ministry, the Federal Chancellor also oversaw foreign affairs; later there was an art chancellor who kept art agendas.

Provisional administration

According to Art. 71 of the Federal Constitutional Act, if the Federal Government or the Federal Chancellor leaves office until a new Federal Government is formed or a new Federal Chancellor is sworn in, a member of the previous Federal Government is "with the continuation of administration" of the Federal Chancellery and with the " Chair of the Federal Government ”. The person in charge of the continuation of the administration bears the same responsibility as a “definitive” Federal Chancellor and also has the same powers. He is thus “more fully-fledged”, albeit only temporarily, Chancellor. However, it is controversial

In recent Austrian history (as of June 2019) such a case of temporary exercise of office has been recorded several times. In May 2016, Chancellor Werner Faymann announced his resignation during the current electoral term . On May 9th, he was removed from office by the then Federal President Heinz Fischer, according to his wishes . At the same time, Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner was entrusted with the chairmanship of the Federal Government Faymann II , which remained in office, until the end of this government on May 17, 2016 (followed by the Federal Government of Kern ). On May 28, 2019, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen dismissedin compliance with Art. 74 Federal Constitution after a successful no-confidence vote of the National Council, the previous federal government short-I . At the same time, until the formation of the new government, he entrusted the previous federal ministers with the continuation of the administration of their ministries and the previous finance minister Hartwig Löger with the administration of the Federal Chancellery and the presidency of the provisional federal government.

useful information

  • In contrast to the Payments Act, only the Federal President is entitled to an official residence due to the Federal Payments Act, which has been in force since August 1, 1997 ( Section 8 of the Federal Payments Act).
  • Sebastian Kurz ( ÖVP ) was Austria's youngest Federal Chancellor to date when he took office on December 18, 2017, at the age of 31, and at the same time the youngest incumbent head of government in the world.
  • Sebastian Kurz is also the only Federal Chancellor to date to have served twice without interruption in the Second Republic.
  • With the impeachment of the entire federal government on May 28, 2019, Sebastian Kurz was also the shortest serving and is also the youngest former Federal Chancellor of the Austrian Republic.
  • When Bruno Kreisky ( SPÖ ) resigned after 13 years in office in 1983, he was 72 years old than Gorbach when he took office.
  • Brigitte Bierlein ( independent ) was 69 years old when she took office and was the first woman to hold office. It has replaced Alfons Gorbach (ÖVP), who was the oldest Austrian Federal Chancellor until 2019 at the age of 63 in 1961.

List of the Federal Chancellors of Austria

See also


Web links

Commons : Federal Chancellor (Austria)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The federal government and its members as the highest organs of the federal administration. In: Robert Walter , Heinz Mayer : Outline of the Austrian Federal Constitutional Law. Manzsche short textbook series 6, 4th revised and supplemented edition, Manzsche Verlag- und Universitätsbuchhandlung, Vienna 1982, ISBN 3-214-04817-1 , pp. 184ff.
  2. See Bruno Kreisky on the website of the Austrian Parliament : Kreisky was a member of the National Council from June 8, 1956 to September 30, 1983, and from April 1953 he was State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Federal Chancellery (until July 1959) and Foreign Minister (until April 1966 ), and from April 1970 to May 1983 Federal Chancellor.
  3. Who is Who - Federal Government on the website of the Austrian Parliament, undated, accessed on June 1, 2019.
  4. ^ Constitutional Court of May 29, 1929, reference number: G1 / 29.
  5. ^ Heinz Mayer, Gerhard Muzak: The Austrian Federal Constitutional Law. 5th edition. Manz'sche publishing and university bookstore, Vienna 2015, p. 300.
  6. Michael Höllbacher: Article 71 Federal Constitutional Law. In: Benjamin Kneihs, Georg Lienbacher : Rill-Schäffer Commentary on Federal Constitutional Law. 22. Supplementary delivery. Verlag Österreich, Vienna 2019, ISBN 978-3-7046-2000-2 , p. 16.
  7. Bernd Wieser: Article 71 of the Federal Constitutional Law. In: Karl Korinek , Michael Holoubek u. a .: Austrian Federal Constitutional Law. 14. Supplementary delivery. Verlag Österreich, Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-7046-6247-7 , paragraph 12 at the end.
  8. Bernd Wieser: The temporary federal government. Verlag Österreich, Vienna 1994, ISBN 3-7046-0531-X , p. 44ff.
  9. Bernd Wieser: Article 71 of the Federal Constitutional Law. In: Karl Korinek, Michael Holoubek u. a .: Austrian Federal Constitutional Law. 14. Supplementary delivery. Verlag Österreich, Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-7046-6247-7 , paragraph 23.
  10. Biography of Dr. Reinhold Mitterlehner on the website of the Austrian Parliament in the version “Status: 02.05.2017”, accessed on May 29, 2019: “Entrusted with the provisional continuation of the administration of the Federal Chancellery and with the chairmanship of the Federal Government until a new Federal Chancellor is appointed / 05/09/2016 - 05/17/2016 ".
  11. Removal, entrustment and swearing in of the outgoing federal government. Words from Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen. In: News. on the website of the Austrian Presidential Chancellery , May 28, 2019, accessed on June 4, 2019.
  12. Hedda Nier: The youngest heads of state and government in the world. In: Statista.com. October 18, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2017 .