Browse the listing below to find government information for Austria, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Austria at its
Austria Country Page.
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: 1920; revised 1929 (reinstated May 1, 1945).
Branches: Executive--federal president (chief of state), chancellor (head of government), cabinet. Legislative--bicameral Federal Assembly (Parliament). Judicial--Constitutional Court, Administrative Court, Supreme Court.
Political parties: Social Democratic Party, People's Party, Freedom Party, Greens, Liberal Forum.
Suffrage: Universal over 19.
Administrative subdivisions: Nine Laender (federal provinces).
Defense (2002): 0.8% of GDP.
The Austrian president convenes and concludes parliamentary sessions and under certain conditions can dissolve Parliament. However, no Austrian president has dissolved Parliament in the Second Republic. The custom is for Parliament to call for new elections if needed. The president requests a party leader, usually the leader of the strongest party, to form a government. Upon the recommendation of the Federal Chancellor, the president also appoints cabinet ministers. No one can become a member of the government without the approval of the president.
The Federal Assembly (Parliament) is composed of two houses--the National Council (Nationalrat), or lower house, and the Federal Council (Bundesrat), or upper house. Legislative authority is concentrated in the National Council. Its 183 members are elected for a maximum 4-year term in a three-tiered system, based on proportional representation. The National Council may dissolve itself by a simple majority vote or it may be dissolved by the president on the recommendation of the Chancellor. The 62 members of the Federal Council are elected by the legislatures of the nine provinces for 5- to 6-year terms. The Federal Council only reviews legislation passed by the National Council and can delay but not veto its enactment.
The highest courts of Austria's independent judiciary are the Constitutional Court; the Administrative Court, which handles bureaucratic disputes; and the Supreme Court, for civil and criminal cases. While the Supreme Court is the court of highest instance for the judiciary, the Administrative Court acts as the supervisory body over the administrative branch, and the Constitutional Court presides over constitutional issues. Justices of the three courts are appointed by the president for specific terms.
The governors of Austria's nine Laender (provinces) are elected by the provincial legislatures. Although most authority, including that of the police, rests with the federal government, the provinces have considerable responsibility for welfare matters and local administration. Strong provincial and local loyalties are based on tradition and history.