Governance system in Austria

Austria is a federal semi-presidential republic but still parliament is one of the core elements of Austrian democracy and is linked with the others in a refined system of checks and balances. A system of checks and balances is meant to ensure that each power exercises control over the others. Every governmental power interacts with Parliament.

The Separation of Powers

The Separation of Powers recognises three distinct and separate branches: the legislative branch (parliament), the executive branch (e.g. government, policeadministrative authorities) and the judicial branch (courts).

Austria is a federal state

The Republic of Austria is a Federal State comprising of nine autonomous federal provinces. Its federal nature is among the principles laid down in the Constitution and can only be changed by referendum. Contrary to the situation in states with a centralist form of organisation, the legislative and executive powers are shared by the federal and provincial governments.

Provincial laws & laws pertaining to communities are enacted by the provincial diets, and the administration of the provinces rests in the hands of the provincial governments. Citizens of any province can influence provincial legislation through instruments of direct democracy.

Political Parties

For a parliamentary democracy to work in a proper manner it needs political parties. They bundle the large number of diverse interests at play in society and make them manageable. Presently there are more than 1,000 registered political parties in Austria. The presence of a large number of different political parties is regarded as a hallmark of Austrian democracy. Significance of political parties is due to the role they play in the political decision-making process.

The legal basis for the establishment of political parties is the Political Parties Act of 2012. In Austria political parties can be formed freely and the procedure is rather simple. Groups may found political parties as long as they keep within the boundaries of constitutional law.

The Federal President

Parliament and the Federal President limit each other in regard of their rightsand powers. In the public eye, the Federal President is linked mostly with state visits, representation and official speeches. Nevertheless, the Constitution bequeaths considerable – if limited – powers on him or her. The Federal President appoints the Federal Chancellor, is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has the power to dismiss the Government, reject proposed ministers, dissolve the National Council and much more. By the way –the National Council and the Federal President are the only federal institutions elected by direct popular vote.

National Flag