Country Listing

Austria Table of Contents




Figure 11. Structure of Government, 1993

Source: Based on information from Kurt Richard Luther and Wolfgang C. Müller (eds.), Politics in Austria, London, 1992, 101; and Melanie A. Sully, A Contemporary History of Austria, London, 1990, 155.

The Austrian system provides for a president who is popularly elected. The president functions as head of state and has little authority over the actions of the government. Political power is in the hand of Austria's head of government, the chancellor (prime minister), who, as in parliamentary systems elsewhere, is usually the leader of the party with the most seat in the lower house of the country's bicameral parliament, the Nationalrat (National Council). The chancellor and his cabinet have extensive executive powers and also are the authors of most legislation. Yet, however great the powers of the executive are, it is politically responsible to the Nationalrat and can only govern with its approval. The upper chamber of parliament, the Bundesrat (Federal Council), represents the interests of Austria's nine provinces. Its limited powers reflect the underdeveloped nature of Austrian federalism. The chancellor and the cabinet, together with their party's representatives in the Nationalrat, are the main center of government activity and power (see fig. 11).

Data as of December 1993