Austria Government

The Parliament of Austria is located in Vienna, the nation’s largest city and capital. Austria became a federal, parliamentarian, democratic republic through the Federal Constitution of 1920. It was reintroduced in 1945 to the nine states of the Federal Republic. The head of state is the Federal President, who is directly elected by popular vote. The chairman of the Federal Government is the Federal Chancellor, who is appointed by the president. The government can be removed from office by either a presidential decree or by vote of no confidence in the lower chamber of parliament, the Nationalrat.

The Parliament of Austria consists of two chambers. The composition of the Nationalrat is determined every four years by a free general election in which every citizen over 16 years (since 2007) is allowed to vote to fill its 183 seats. This period will be extended to five years after the next election. While there is a general threshold of 4 percent for all parties at federal elections (Nationalratswahlen), there remains the possibility to gain a direct seat, or Direktmandat, in one of the 43 regional election districts.

The Nationalrat is the dominant chamber in the formation of legislation in Austria. However, the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat has a limited right of veto (the Nationalrat can – in almost all cases – ultimately pass the respective bill by voting a second time. This is referred to as ‘Beharrungsbeschluss, lit. “vote of persistence”). A convention, called the Österreich-Konvent was convened in June 30, 2003 to decide upon suggestions to reform the constitution, but has failed to produce a proposal that would receive the two thirds of votes in the Nationalrat necessary for constitutional amendments and/ or reform. However, some important parts of the final report were generally agreed upon and are still expected to be implemented.

Overview

Country name:
Conventional long form: Republic of Austria
Conventional short form: Austria
Local long form: Republik Oesterreich
Local short form: Oesterreich

Government type:
federal republic

Capital:
Name: Vienna
Geographic coordinates: 48 12 N, 16 22 E
Time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:
9 states (Bundeslaender, singular – Bundesland); Burgenland, Kaernten (Carinthia), Niederoesterreich (Lower Austria), Oberoesterreich (Upper Austria), Salzburg, Steiermark (Styria), Tirol, Vorarlberg, Wien (Vienna)

Independence:
976 (Margravate of Austria established); 17 September 1156 (Duchy of Austria founded); 11 August 1804 (Austrian Empire proclaimed); 12 November 1918 (republic proclaimed)

National holiday:
National Day, 26 October (1955); note – commemorates the passage of the law on permanent neutrality

Constitution:
1920; revised 1929; reinstated 1 May 1945

Legal system:
Civil law system with Roman law origin; judicial review of legislative acts by the Constitutional Court; separate administrative and civil/ penal supreme courts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

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