The politics of
Austria take place in a framework of a federal
parliamentary representative democratic
republic, with a Federal Chancellor as the head of government, and a Federal President as head of state. Governments, both local and federal, exercise
executive power. Federal
legislative power is vested both in the
government and in the two chambers of parliament, the National Council and the Federal Council. Since 1949 the conservative
Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the center-left
Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) have largely dominated the party-political landscape of Austria.
The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, and exclusively federal in nature: there are no state courts.
The ethnically and culturally heterogeneous
nation state of
Austria is one of the many remnant states of
Austria-Hungary, a vast multinational
empire that ceased to exist in 1918. The Austrian Republic was preceded by a
constitutional monarchy, whose legislative body was elected by, as
The New York Times put it, "quasi-universal (male) suffrage" for the first time in 1897.
Austria's first attempt at republican governance, after the fall of the monarchy in 1918, was severely hampered by the crippling economic costs of war reparations required by the victorious
Allies. Austria's First Republic (1918–1938) made some pioneering reforms in the 1920s, particularly in Vienna, that served as models for the
social-welfare states of post-World War I Europe. However, the Republic gradually developed into an
dictatorship between 1933-1934 under Chancellor
Engelbert Dollfuss, whom
Nazi party agents assassinated in 1934. The First Republic ended with
invasion and annexation by Germany in 1938. Following the defeat of Germany in 1945 Austria resumed its republican government.
The beginning of the 21st century marked, for Austria, a half-century of a stable government under a constitutional
federal republican system. It is governed according to the principles of
representative democracy and the
rule of law. The constitutional framework of the politics of Austria and the marrow of the constitution's practical implementation are widely agreed to be robust and adequately conducive to peaceful change.