Politics of Austria

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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. [1]

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 Austrofascist 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[ by whom?] to be robust and adequately[ quantify] conducive to peaceful change.


Austria's constitution characterizes the republic as a federation consisting of nine autonomous federal states. Both the federation and all its states have written constitutions defining them as republican entities governed according to the principles of representative democracy. Aside from the fact that the states of Austria lack an independent judiciary on the one hand and that their autonomy is largely notional on the other hand, Austria's government structure resembles that of some much larger federal republics such as Germany.

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