Political system of Austria

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Scheme of the constitutional system of Austria
Federal states, districts, municipalities and statutory cities of Austria

The political system of the Republic of Austria is based on the principles of democracy , the republican form of government , the federal state , the rule of law , the separation of powers , the liberal principle and membership of the European Union . The most important legal bases of the political system are the Lisbon Treaty on the structure of the EU and the Federal Constitution .

The EU member Republic of Austria is a semi-presidential parliamentary democracy . Elections in Austria are largely carried out according to proportional representation, which means that the parties usually have to form coalitions. As in almost all democracies, the parties play a central role in Austrian political life.

The division of tasks between Austria and the EU is regulated in the EU treaty, that between the federal states and the federal government by the Federal Constitutional Law (B-VG). The European Court of Justice monitors compliance with the EU Treaty and the Constitutional Court of Justice for those of the B-VG and the other constitutional laws .

Constitutional principles

Democratic principle

The democratic principle means that all state law comes from the people. The democratic principle is  laid down in Art. 1 B-VG. Austria is a representative democracy, which means that representatives are elected. These are determined by free and secret elections ( Art. 26  B-VG). Another important element is direct democracy , which is guaranteed through referendums , referendums and referendums .

In matters which Austria transferred to the EU's competence after the referendum of 1994 , the law originates from the peoples of the EU. Since the EU is gradually replacing the principle of unanimity in many matters with the principle of a double majority (MPs and member states), regulations may also arise that Austria has not approved. Nevertheless, these will also apply in Austria.

Republican principle

The republican principle concerns the form of government. Austria has been a republic since November 12, 1918, headed by the Federal President as head of state since 1920. The Federal President is elected every six years by those entitled to vote ( Art. 60 (5) B-VG). The Habsburg Act 1919-1996 expelled members of the former ruling house who did not want to recognize the republic from the country.

State principle

The federal principle means that Austria is not a unitary state , but also not a confederation of states ( Art. 2  B-VG). The federal states have their own legislation within the framework of the federal constitution and their respective state constitution. The Federal Constitution determines in Articles 10–15 which areas are regulated by federal law and which are regulated by state law.

Rule of law principle

The principle of the rule of law is intended to protect citizens from arbitrary state decisions . The rule of law is guaranteed by the constitutional rule that all state activity is only permitted on the basis of the law, by the separation of powers (which is often circumvented in political practice) and by independent courts. The “tiered structure of the legal system” guarantees that laws are constitutionally created. The Constitutional Court monitors compliance with the constitution .

The principle of separation of powers was introduced to prevent concentration of power and corruption. It is therefore not possible for a single person or organization to exercise absolute power. Separation of powers means that legislation ( legislative ), executive ( executive ) and courts ( judiciary ) are separated. The tasks are thus divided between several different organs. However, the individual organs are not completely separate, but there are interdependencies between them, for example the National Council's right to control the federal government.

Liberal principle

The liberal principle guarantees the citizen personal freedom through defined basic rights and freedoms. Of all the principles, this is the least recognized as a constitutional principle. The liberal principle is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has constitutional status, and the constitutional law of 1867. B. the secrecy of letters and protection against arbitrary arrest.

Political system

level Legislative
(legislative power)
Judicial authority
(judicial authority)
European Union European Parliament (751 members, 18 of them from Austria)
European Council (heads of state and government)
Council (EU Council of Ministers)
European Commission European Court of Justice (a judge from Austria)

Court of the European Union (a judge from Austria)
not an EU body: European Court of Human Rights

Federal level National Council (183 members)
Federal Council (61 members)
Federal President

Federal government

Constitutional Court

Administrative Court with the following sub-instances:

Supreme Court
4 higher regional courts
20 regional courts
116 district courts

State level Landtag (9 Landtag with a total of 440 members) State government


Provincial Administrative Court
district District administrative authorities (state authorities)
local community Mayor
Municipal Board , City Council or City Senate
Municipal Council

Municipal office, city office or magistrate

European level

On July 17, 1989, the then Foreign Minister Dr. Alois Mock applied for Austria to join the then EEC . On June 12, 1994 there was a referendum on the Accession BVG ( Federal Constitutional Law on Austria's Accession to the European Union ), which was approved with two thirds (66.58%) of the votes cast. The accession treaty was then signed on June 24th. The accession itself took place on January 1, 1995. In 2000 Austria was sharply criticized for the participation of the FPÖ in government at that time ; bilateral contacts with Austria were avoided for a short time; this sanction period seems to be one of the reasons for the strong EU skepticism of the Austrian population. At the beginning of 1999 Austria and eleven other member states joined the euro zone ; The associated cash was introduced in early 2002.

As a result of joining the EU, various competencies, especially in business, agriculture, transport, environmental protection, energy policy and consumer protection, were transferred to the Union. European law takes precedence over national legal systems. While regulations (these are de facto EU laws) are directly applicable, directives (EU framework laws, according to the specifications of which national laws are to be enacted) first need to be implemented in Austrian law; If the implementation is not carried out within the usual time frames, a guideline can also be directly applicable. The EU countries work together in the politically "sensitive" areas of justice and security.

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on December 1, 2009 to 2013, Austria had 19 members of the European Parliament (previously 17), and since the 2014 European elections there have been 18 seats. There are 12 members each in the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions . Each EU country also nominates a member of the European Commission . The Austrian Johannes Hahn is currently Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

Federal level

legislative branch

The national legislature is exercised in Austria by the National Council and the Federal Council . The legislature passes the federal budget and all federal laws. The legislature also controls the federal government . The legislature is not a real two-chamber system, as the members of the Federal Council are sent by the state parliaments and only the members of the National Council are elected by the people. The Federal Council is not an equivalent chamber, since all laws must be passed in the National Council and the Federal Council only has an absolute veto in very few cases. Both chambers together are known as the Federal Assembly , which can call a referendum to remove the Federal President and declare war.

On December 18, 1918, women's suffrage was introduced for Austrian women over 20 years of age. This was part of the new constitution of December 1918. However, until 1920 prostitutes were excluded from the right to vote.

National Council

Assembly room of the National Council

The Nationalrat is the Chamber of Deputies of the Republic of Austria, thus the first chamber of the legislature at federal level. Together with the Federal Council, the second chamber, it forms the Federal Assembly in special cases. The National Council has 183 members who have been elected every four years since 1920 and every five years since 2007. The elections take place according to a modified proportional representation.

The MPs have a free mandate , which means that they are legally independent of their party or other interest groups when casting their votes. In order to maintain the so-called club discipline, however, it is generally sufficient for dissident MPs to risk not being elected by their party in the next election. At the beginning of each legislative period , the National Council elects three presidents who, among other things, have the task of representing the Federal President in the event of prolonged absence. The National Council can express mistrust to the entire federal government or to individual ministers; the Federal President must then carry out the recall.

The National Council adopts federal laws. The laws are prepared in committees . The approval of the Federal Council is required for most of the National Council's resolutions to come into force. If the Federal Council rejects a legislative decision by the National Council, the National Council can override the Federal Council's decision with a persistent resolution , which is why the Federal Council's objection is called a suspensive (i.e. suspensive) veto . The Federal Council has no right of objection to budget legislation, to all other financial laws and to laws that only concern the National Council (dissolution or rules of procedure).

Federal Council

Federal Council meeting room

The Bundesrat is the second chamber of parliament and represents the states at federal level (state chamber ) . The MPs are sent to the Bundesrat by the state parliaments . The number is determined by the Federal President after each census; there are currently 61 members. The members are not responsible to the state parliaments, that is, they have a free mandate .

Most of the legislative decisions of the National Council must then be submitted to the Federal Council for comment. The Federal Council has very little influence in everyday political life in Austria, as it can normally only postpone laws but not completely prevent them. Any veto of the Federal Council can be overridden by a persistent resolution by the National Council, unless the law affects the competences of the federal states or the Federal Council itself: then the Federal Council has an absolute veto. The Federal Council has no right of objection to some laws (see National Council).

Since the Federal Council is not directly elected, the members are not referred to as MPs, but rather as members of the Federal Council or as Federal Councilors.

Legislative process

The legislative initiatives can

  • by the National Council itself ("initiative proposal"),
  • by the Federal Government ("Government Bill") and
  • from the Federal Council

come (Article 41 para. 1 B-VG).

In addition, each application must be submitted to the National Council for consideration by means of a referendum with more than 100,000 signatures or one-sixth of the voters from three countries (Article 41, Paragraph 2 of the Federal Constitution).

Most of the legislative initiatives come from the federal government.

Every draft law must be dealt with by the National Council in three readings. Discussions in the committees take place between the readings. The vote takes place after the third reading. The decisive factor here is whether the law is a simple law or a constitutional law :

  • Simple laws: the presence of at least one third of the MPs is required; A resolution requires the approval of an absolute majority of the MPs present.
  • Constitutional laws (or provisions in simple laws), each of which must be marked as such: The presence of at least half of the MPs is required; A resolution requires the approval of at least two thirds of the votes cast.

After the decision in the National Council, the legislative resolution must be sent immediately to the Federal Council , which can object (suspensive veto) within eight weeks. A Federal Council veto can be overridden by a resolution of the National Council ( persistence resolution ). The Federal Council's veto usually only has a suspensive effect. If the Federal Council has expressly decided not to raise an objection, if the eight-week period has passed without objection, or if the National Council has passed a persistent resolution in the event of an objection, the law is sent to the Federal President for authentication.

The Federal President has to certify the constitutional implementation of the law. It is controversial whether this also involves checking the content of the constitution or whether this process is only about compliance with the necessary formal requirements.

If the Federal President has certified the constitutional implementation of the law, the Federal Chancellor must countersign it and immediately announce it in the Federal Law Gazette for the Republic of Austria . Unless otherwise provided in the law, a law comes into force on the day after its publication.

Federal Assembly

The Federal Assembly meets in the meeting room of the former House of Representatives.

In special cases, the National Council and the Federal Council meet at the headquarters of the National Council for the Federal Assembly. According to the Federal Constitutional Act, it has several functions that primarily affect the office of the Federal President : It is responsible for swearing in the Federal President, and (at the request of the National Council), it can decide on a referendum to remove the Federal President before the end of his term of office or on official prosecution of the Federal President in a certain matter ("extradition", lifting of immunity ), finally (at the request of the National Council or the Federal Council ) decide that an indictment of violation of the Federal Constitution should be brought before the Constitutional Court against the Federal President . Declarations of war also fall within the remit of the Federal Assembly. Although it is made up of members of legislative organs, the Federal Assembly is entrusted exclusively with constitutional enforcement tasks. Nevertheless, their actions and thus the Federal Assembly as such are constitutionally and systematically assigned to the legislature.


The executive includes the Federal President, the Federal Government, the Armed Forces , the Federal Police and Justice Guard and all federal and state authorities, provided they implement federal laws (“indirect federal administration”).

The executive has the task of executing the laws of the legislature; if it has been legally authorized to do so, also by specific ordinances of the federal government or the responsible federal minister. The executive branch often has some discretion in interpreting laws. The concrete interpretation of the laws is often determined by decrees of the federal ministers.

Depending on the matter, citizens can lodge a complaint against specific acts of the executive (administrative acts) with the competent regional administrative court or the federal administrative court or the federal finance court, the decision of which goes to the administrative court . Anyone who thinks they have violated their fundamental rights can go to the Constitutional Court .

Federal President

The official seat of the Federal President in the Leopoldine wing of the Vienna Hofburg

The Federal President appoints the Federal Chancellor (and is not bound by any specifications) as well as the ministers and state secretaries on his proposal and can dismiss individual ministers on the proposal of the Chancellor or the entire Federal Government without a proposal . In addition, at the request of the federal government, he can dissolve the National Council, has to notarize laws (it is disputed whether he has a substantive right to review), has supreme command of the armed forces , appoints judges, civil servants and officers and represents the Republic of Austria externally. In theory, the Federal President has a strong position (compared to the German Federal President , for example ), but in political reality he mostly concentrates on the representative tasks of his office ( renunciation of roles ). Most of the Federal President's acts are based on a proposal by the Federal Government; it is up to him not to respond to a suggestion without having to justify it.

The Federal President is elected directly by the federal people every six years. A re-election immediately following is only permitted once. In the original Federal Constitutional Law of 1920, his position was still very weak, but his office was strengthened with the constitutional reform of 1929 aimed at by the conservatives. Since this amendment, the Federal President should also be elected by the people instead of by the Federal Assembly as before. In fact, it didn't happen for the first time until 1951.

The Federal President can be dismissed through proceedings before the Constitutional Court and through a referendum to be scheduled by the Federal Assembly .

Federal government

The Federal Chancellery, place of the Council of Ministers meetings

Like the Federal President, the federal government is one of the highest administrative bodies of the federal government. The Federal Constitution transfers federal administration to the Federal Government, unless it is reserved for the Federal President. As a collegial body , the federal government only exercises those activities that have not been legally assigned to the individual federal ministers.

The Federal Government consists of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers . In addition, when the government is formed, state secretaries are appointed who are subordinate to the respective ministers. The State Secretaries take part in Council of Ministers meetings without voting rights and formally do not belong to the Federal Government. The most important task of the federal government is the resolution of legislative initiatives (so-called government bills ). All ministers must agree to these before they can be forwarded to the National Council as an application.

The members of the Federal Government are appointed by the Federal President on the proposal of the Federal Chancellor. The Federal President is theoretically not bound by any guidelines when appointing the Federal Chancellor and the other members of the Federal Government, but in reality has to comply with the majority in the National Council if the cabinet he has appointed is to endure. If the National Council passes a vote of no confidence , the entire Federal Government or individual ministers must be dismissed by the Federal President.


The Federal Chancellor is the primus inter pares among the members of the Federal Government. In contrast to the German Chancellor , he has no authority to issue guidelines vis-à-vis the ministers. However, he can propose any minister to the Federal President for removal; therefore its position in political reality is stronger than that of the federal ministers. In addition, he is usually the chairman of the strongest parliamentary party, which gives him additional weight.

Federal Minister

The Federal Ministers are appointed by the Federal President on the proposal of the Federal Chancellor. As mentioned above, all members of the federal government have equal rights. The Federal Ministries Act defines which competencies they have. (If the intended ministries do not yet exist, federal ministers without a portfolio can be appointed who may later take over ministries.) The federal ministers must be dismissed by the Federal President after a vote of no confidence by the National Council. State secretaries who are bound by the instructions of the federal ministers can be added to support them. In practice, in coalition governments, federal ministers are occasionally assigned state secretaries from another ruling party, which means that ruling parties can constantly monitor one another in their day-to-day work.


In Austria, all ordinary jurisdiction is exercised by the federal government. All such courts are therefore (unlike in Germany and Switzerland in particular ) federal courts. The higher regional, regional and district courts are only local federal institutions.

The courts of public law (constitutional and administrative law) were also run exclusively by the federal government until the end of 2013. On January 1, 2014, the administrative jurisdiction was supplemented by a sub-instance consisting of eleven courts, the regional administrative court established by the respective federal state , the federal administrative court and the federal finance court . These new courts replace the options available until 2013 to appeal against decisions to a higher administrative body within the federal or state administration.

Public prosecution offices have been set up at all regional courts for criminal matters . The public prosecutor's offices are bound by the instructions of the Minister of Justice. The judges in Austria are independent (Article 87 B-VG) as well as irrevocable and (against their will) irrevocable (Article 88, paragraph 2).

In Austria - in contrast to Germany - no constitutional complaint can be made against acts of ordinary jurisdiction, but since 1993 a fundamental rights complaint can be made to the Supreme Court.

Ordinary jurisdiction

The Supreme Court in the Palace of Justice

Ordinary jurisdiction in Austria is only exercised by the federal government. The court system is divided into district, regional and higher regional courts. However, these are only federal institutions at the local level. The highest instance in civil and criminal matters is the Supreme Court . Although the courts are arranged in four stages, there is only a two or three stage train of justice . No constitutional complaints are possible against court decisions. However, all courts can initiate legal or regulatory review proceedings at the Constitutional Court if they have concerns about the constitutionality of such provisions on which they would have to base the specific decision.

Constitutional Court (VfGH)

The seat of the Constitutional Court in Vienna-Innere Stadt in the former building of the Österr. Creditanstalt for trade and commerce

The Constitutional Court (mostly abbreviated VfGH) deals with the review of laws and regulations for their constitutionality. He also investigates complaints from citizens who claim that their constitutionally guaranteed rights have been violated. He also exercises state jurisdiction; if the Federal Assembly decides , proceedings can be initiated against the Federal President that may lead to his dismissal.

The powers of the Constitutional Court are regulated in the Federal Constitution . The members of the Constitutional Court are proposed by the Federal Government or the National Council or the Federal Council and appointed by the Federal President. In order to remove laws from the control of the Constitutional Court, laws were often passed as constitutional laws by the earlier grand coalitions. Such laws cannot be repealed by the Constitutional Court, since they are part of the constitution that the Constitutional Court watches over. Only constitutional laws that have come into being unconstitutional can be repealed by the Constitutional Court. This is the case, for example, when a norm violates the principles of the constitution. This can be declared unconstitutional if the mandatory referendum is not carried out (see general amendment to the Federal Constitution ).

Administrative Court (VwGH)

The Bohemian Court Chancellery in Vienna, seat of the Administrative Court

The Administrative Court (VwGH) is one of the two courts of public law , along with the Constitutional Court, and together with this and the Supreme Court one of the highest courts in Austria. The judges of the Administrative Court are appointed by the Federal President on the proposal of the Federal Government. Administrative jurisdiction is intended to ensure the legality of public administration (Art. 129 B-VG). The Administrative Court reviews the decisions of the administrative authorities in each case with the last instance for their legality, as well as whether an authority has fulfilled its decision-making obligation. If an administrative authority remains inactive despite a grace period set by the VwGH, the VwGH must decide in its place.

The review of administrative decisions was fundamentally changed on January 1, 2014 with the establishment of new courts under the VwGH (nine regional administrative courts , the Federal Administrative Court and the Federal Finance Court ). If appeals against administrative decisions of the federal or state level were made to the next higher level of administration up to 2013, a judicial complaint is now filed.

Social partnership

A special feature of the Austrian political system is the Austrian model of social partnership . It is a form of decision-making that involves interest groups, especially employers , workers and the peasantry . This social partnership primarily serves to build consensus on economic and social issues. It is formed from the ÖGB , the Chamber of Labor , the Chamber of Commerce and the President's Conference of the Chamber of Agriculture . The most well-known tasks of the social partnership are the negotiation of collective agreements and wages . Most of the bills are also made available to interest groups for review before the federal government forwards them to the National Council.

Criticism of the social partnership comes from parties that are not or hardly represented in the social partnership. The interest groups are mostly made up of representatives who are close to the two major parties, the SPÖ and ÖVP , which is why the social partnership gains influence, especially in times of large coalitions. The smaller parties ( FPÖ , Neos , Greens ) are therefore usually not represented in the interest groups. The social partnership is described by the critics as undemocratic, since it actually has no real democratic legitimation, nor is it regulated by law. Some also see a kind of "horse trading" in social partnership. The Austrian social partnership itself invokes the “principle of voluntariness” and sees “the historically grown cooperation of interest groups” as “largely informal”. However, most Austrians see the social partnership as a positive institution.

Direct democracy

Some elements of direct democracy are also provided for in the federal constitution. The most important element of direct democracy in Austria is the referendum. Petitions can be sent to the National Council with the referendum . Other forms of direct democracy are referendums and referendums.


A referendum is a popular petition for a specific legal regulation to the National Council . Most popular petitions already contain legislative proposals. In order to hold a nationwide referendum, declarations of support from one per thousand of the population are required. If enough declarations of support are available, the referendum is available for signature in the municipal offices for one week. If there are more than 100,000 signatures (or the approval of one sixth of the voters from three federal states), the referendum must be dealt with in the National Council. But that does not mean that the National Council must also take the referendum into account.


A referendum on a law can be passed at any time by the National Council. The outcome of a referendum is binding. A referendum is mandatory in the event of an overall amendment to the Federal Constitution (this was the case when Austria joined the EU, for example) and in the event of the Federal President being dismissed . For all other laws, the National Council can voluntarily pass a referendum.


In contrast to a referendum, a referendum is not binding. Parliament is not bound by the outcome of the vote. A referendum can be carried out if you want to know the attitude of the Austrian population to a specific question. Since the attitude of the Austrian population can be determined more easily and quickly through opinion polls , the referendum is of little importance. In the so far only referendum at federal level in January 2013, citizens were asked to maintain conscription.

Political system at the national level

Political system at the national level

The federal states are the constituent states of the Republic of Austria. The Republic of Austria consists of nine federal states. Their legislative and executive powers are laid down in the Federal Constitutional Act. Areas of competence that were not reserved for the federal government are administered autonomously by the federal states without being individually mentioned in the constitution, with the respective state government as a collegial body exercising political control. The federal government itself collects taxes, including those whose income is transferred to the federal states.

The federal states are particularly important as providers of the so-called indirect federal administration . There are many competencies that are regulated and monitored by the federal government, but are implemented by the federal states on behalf of the federal government. The governor or the provincial councilor commissioned by him is directly responsible to the responsible federal minister for law enforcement.

Via the Bundesrat , the federal states also participate indirectly in federal legislation (directly by influencing the members of the National Council elected in the respective federal state and federal ministers from the federal state).

At the state level, with the exception of the state administrative courts introduced in 2014, there are no courts, as ordinary jurisdiction falls solely to the federal government.

Legislature: The Landtag

Parliaments at the level of the federal states are the state parliaments. The state parliaments are responsible for legislation in all areas that are not expressly assigned to the federal government by the federal constitution. (The suspensive veto reserved for the federal government against state legislative resolutions was abolished in 2013.)

The state parliament can also pass state constitutional laws, which, however, must be in accordance with the federal constitution. If there are disputes over jurisdiction between the federal government and the state in the area of ​​simple legislation, the Constitutional Court is called upon to decide, since federal law does not automatically take precedence over state law. The legislative period is six years in Upper Austria and five years in all other federal states.

Executive: the state government

The state government consists of the governor, his deputies and the state councilors. The state government is elected by the state parliament. Depending on the federal state, the state governments consist of 7 to 14 members and are formed either as a proportional government , as prescribed by the state constitution in some federal states , or else as a majority or minority government. The state government performs the tasks of the executive as well as tasks of the indirect federal administration in the respective federal state.


The governor is the chairman of the state government. He is elected by the state parliament and sworn in by the federal president . The governor is also responsible for the indirect federal administration, as such he is responsible to the federal government. In exercising indirect federal administration, however, it is usually represented by a regional council. The governor's tasks are to represent his country on a national and international level, to coordinate all authorities in the event of a crisis, and to chair and swear the state government.

The provincial governors' conference, as a regular informal meeting of the nine provincial governors, is considered to be the most important tool at the state level in terms of politics.


Districts are an administrative unit between the municipality and the state. The district administrative authority is mostly the district administration (BH). The district administration is a first instance authority . There are no elected officials at the district level. The highest official, the district captain, is appointed by the state government. The district administration has, among other things, the following tasks: medical officer, trade authority, community supervision and a few more. As of January 1, 2017, there are 79 districts.

The district authority is also responsible for the security administration, provided this does not fall within the scope of the state police headquarters .

In the 15 statutory cities , the tasks of the district administration, with the exception of security administration, are performed by the magistrate . This also applies to the federal capital Vienna (which is also a federal state). In addition, there are elected district representatives and elected district heads in Vienna. However, these are not subordinate to the respective municipal district office ; it reports to the magistrate director.


Municipalities are the lowest level of the regional authorities in the structure of the Republic of Austria. Since the constitution only empowers the federal government and the states to legislate and only appoints the federal government to jurisdiction, all actions of the municipalities are to be assigned to the state task of administration.

The tasks of the municipal administration are regulated in the federal constitution and in state laws (the municipal ordinances). Municipalities are responsible, among other things, for the areas of compulsory school maintenance, spatial planning and construction. Organs of the municipalities are the municipality council , the municipality board and the mayor .

The parish council is the elected general representative body of the parish people. The mayor is also directly elected by the people if the respective state constitution so stipulates. This is the case in all federal states except Vienna, Lower Austria and Styria, where the mayor is elected by the local council. The municipality board consists of the mayor, the deputy mayors and the executive councilors. In municipalities with municipal rights, the municipal council is called the city ​​council , in cities with their own statute the municipal senate .

In principle, all municipalities are the same; there is no legal difference between simple municipalities , market municipalities and urban municipalities .

As of January 1, 2018, there are 2098 parishes. Of these, 770 are market communities and 201 are urban communities.

Statutory cities and the federal capital Vienna have special rights and obligations . Statutory cities are not only municipalities, but also district administrative authorities for their area. Their administrative authorities are called magistrates and are on an equal footing with the district authorities . The mayors of statutory cities, as the board of the magistrate, also perform the duties of district captain. While the district captain is appointed by the state government, in statutory cities the mayor and thus head of the district administration is elected by the people (directly or indirectly via the local council, depending on the state constitution).

The City of Vienna is also a federal state, so the Vienna City Council is also the Landtag , the Vienna City Senate is the Vienna State Government and the Mayor is also the Governor.


Number of hierarchy levels

As the tabular representation of the system shows, politics has been carried out on five hierarchical levels since joining the EU in 1995. Critics believe there are too many levels and seek simplification. Some question the federal states as a political level ("Bavaria has more inhabitants than the whole of Austria and only one government") and criticize the state princes ' behavior, which is not always beneficial for the entire state , as the state governors are often called in the media. (In order to exercise their influence together, the state leaders created the state governors' conference.) In this context, some question the usefulness of the second chamber of parliament, the Bundesrat . All this is countered by the argument that the lower political levels act closer to the people than the upper levels . In any case, it should be noted that politicians who drive self-preservation tend to be structural conservatism and have little interest in fundamental state reforms.

Political influence on state enterprises

After 1945 the federal, state and local governments acted heavily as owners of companies. The so-called nationalized industry , administered by the transport minister , was an important power factor for decades, until the managers who were chosen in red-black proportional representation were no longer able to cope with foreign or private competition due to the political reluctance to admit structural reforms. A recent example is Austrian Airlines , which ultimately had to be given away to Lufthansa in 2008 .

There is regular dispute about the question of how state holdings are to be managed today. There were similar problems in the federal states and municipalities, where changes in the leading party are much less common than in the federal government; This can be seen, for example, at Bank Burgenland , which Burgenland sold in 2006 , at Hypo Group Alpe Adria , which had long been dominated by Carinthia's top politics ( emergency nationalized in 2009 ), and at Vienna Airport , which is politically dominated by Vienna and Lower Austria , which came up with a badly managed terminal project.


  • Herbert Dachs u. a. (Ed.): Politics in Austria. The manual. Manz, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-214-07680-9 .
  • Fried Esterbauer: The political system of Austria - introduction to the legal basis and the political reality . Leykam, Graz 1995, ISBN 3-7011-9069-0 .
  • Bernd-Christian Funk: Introduction to Austrian constitutional law . Revised edition. Leykam, Graz 2003, ISBN 3-7011-9101-8 .
  • Anton Pelinka , Sieglinde Rosenberger: Austrian politics. Basics - structures - trends . 2nd updated edition. WUV, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-85114-624-7 .
  • Anton Pelinka: Legislation in the Austrian political system. In: Wolfgang Ismayr (Ed.): Legislation in Western Europe. EU countries and the European Union. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-8100-3466-3 , pp. 431–461.
  • Robert Walter, Heinz Mayer , Gabriele Kucsko-Stadlmayer : Outline of the Austrian Federal Constitutional Law. Manz, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-214-08889-7 .
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  • Alfred Kyrer , Michael Alexander Populorum (Hrsg.): About political culture in Austria or: The egg-laying wool milk sow. Interregio Verlag, Salzburg / Bergheim 2015, ISBN 978-3-85198-002-8 .

See also

Portal: Politics  - Overview of Wikipedia content on politics

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Federal Constitutional Law in full
  2. Herbert Dachs u. a. (Ed.): Politics in Austria. The manual. Manz, Vienna 2006, p. 131.
  3. a b Birgitta Bader-Zaar: Gaining the Vote in a World in Transition: Female Suffrage in Austria. In: Blanca Rodríguez-Ruiz, Ruth Rubio-Marín: The Struggle for Female Suffrage in Europe. Voting to Become Citizens. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden and Boston 2012, ISBN 978-90-04-22425-4 , pp. 191-206, p. 199.
  4. ^ Jad Adams: Women and the Vote. A world history. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-870684-7 , page 287.
  5. ^ Theo Öhlinger , Harald Eberhard : Constitutional Law. 9th edition. facultas.wuv, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-7089-0844-1 , margin no. 433.
  6. Federal Law Gazette No. 894/1992
  7. ^ The Austrian Social Partnership ( Memento from October 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive ; PDF, 20 kB, original was at www.sozialpartner.at ).
  8. Survey: Austrians see social partnership positively . ORF Upper Austria, February 9, 2007, accessed on December 18, 2010.