Austria - Government



The second Austrian republic was established on 19 December 1945. According to the constitution of 1920, as amended in 1929, Austria is a federal republic with a democratically elected parliament. The president, elected by popular vote for a six-year term, appoints a federal chancellor (Bundeskanzler), usually the leader of the largest party in parliament, for a term not exceeding that of parliament (four years); upon the chancellor's proposal, the president nominates ministers (who should not serve in parliament at the same time) to head the administrative departments of government. The ministers make up the cabinet, which formulates and directs national policy. Cabinet ministers serve out their terms subject to the confidence of a parliamentary majority. The president is limited to two terms of office.

The parliament, known as the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung), consists of the National Council (Nationalrat) and Federal Council (Bundesrat). The Bundesrat has 64 members, elected by the country's unicameral provincial legislatures (Landtage) in proportion to the population of each province. The Nationalrat has 183 members (prior to 1970, 165 members), elected directly in nine election districts for four-year terms by secret ballot on the basis of proportional representation. All citizens 25 years of age or older are eligible to serve in parliament; all citizens 19 years of age or older may vote. Voting is compulsory for presidential elections. The electoral law was amended in February 1990 to extend the franchise to Austrians living permanently or temporarily abroad. All legislation originates in the Nationalrat; the Bundesrat exercises only a suspensory veto.

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