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Meetings Calendar 2006
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The Federal Executive

 

 

The supreme federal administrative authorities

The supreme federal administrative authorities are the Federal President, the Federal Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, the federal ministers and the federal government. They are called the “supreme authorities” because they are at the highest level of the state hierarchy and do not receive instructions from any higher institutions.

 

The Federal President

The Federal President is the head of state of the Republic. He or she represents Austria to the outside world, and in particular concludes international treaties.

The Federal President is directly elected by the people. Anyone who is eligible to vote in elections to the National Council and who turns 35 no later than the end of the day of the election is eligible for the office of Federal President.

The candidate who receives more than half of all valid votes is elected. If no candidate receives more than half the vote, there is a runoff between the two candidates who received the most votes. If there is only one candidate, then the election is held in the form of a referendum (“Yes”/“No”).

The term of office of the Federal President is six years. A single re-election is possible.

Competences of the Federal President:

  • Appointment and dismissal of the Federal Chancellor (without recommendation)
  • Dismissal of the whole federal government (without recommendation)
  • Appointment and dismissal of the federal ministers (at the recommendation of the Federal Chancellor)
  • Appointment and dismissal of the state secretaries (at the recommendation of the Federal Chancellor)
  • Certification of the constitutionality of federal laws (without recommendation)
  • Convocation of the National Council (at the recommendation of the government)
  • Dissolution of the National Council or a provincial assembly (at the recommendation of the government)
  • Commander-in-chief of the armed forces
  • International representation of the Republic (at the recommendation of the government)
  • Appointment of federal officials, delegated to the federal ministers (at the recommendation of the government)
  • Creation and conferment of honorary titles (at the recommendation of the government)
  • Waiving of criminal proceedings, pardons on an individual basis or amnesties (at the recommendation of the government)
  • Legitimation (legitimation of children - at the recommendation of the government)
  • Emergency decrees (at the recommendation of the government)

Federal Presidents since 1945

 

Karl Renner 1945-1951
Theodor Körner 1951-1957
Adolf Schärf 1957-1965
Franz Jonas 1965-1974
Rudolf Kirchschläger 1974-1986
Kurt Waldheim 1986-1992
Thomas Klestil 1992-2004
Heinz Fischer Since 2004

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Federal government

The highest federal administrative activities are carried out – provided that they do not fall under the competence of the Federal President – by the federal government, the Federal Chancellor and the individual federal ministers. Taken as a whole, the Federal Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and the other federal ministers form the government as a collegiate body. The chairman is the Federal Chancellor. However, he may not give instructions to the other ministers in this function. As supreme authorities, the federal ministers operate free of instructions.

The government takes its decisions in the Council of Ministers, which generally meets on Tuesdays. The principle of unanimity applies in the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers has a quorum when more than half of all members of the goverment are present.

Federal governments since 1945

 

ÖVP-SPÖ coalition government 1945-1966
ÖVP government 1966-1970
SPÖ government 1970-1983
SPÖ-FPÖ coalition government 1983-1986
SPÖ-ÖVP coalition government 1986-1999
ÖVP-FPÖ coalition government 2000-2005
ÖVP-BZÖ coalition government Since 2005

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The federal ministers

As a rule, the Federal Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and the federal ministers run a federal ministry. However, ministers without portfolio (that is, not at the head of a federal ministry) may also be appointed.

The Federal Chancellor is appointed by the Federal President. The Vice-Chancellor and the federal ministers are appointed by the Federal President upon the recommendation of the Federal Chancellor.

The terms of office of the federal ministers do not end with the election of the National Council. Traditionally the government submits its resignation to the Federal President after the election of the National Council. In this case, the Federal President may entrust the continued administration to all or some of the individual ministers of the current government until a new government is formed

The Federal Chancellors since 1945

 

Leopold Figl (ÖVP) 1945-1953
Julius Raab (ÖVP) 1953-1963
Alfons Gorbach (ÖVP) 1963-1966
Josef Klaus (ÖVP) 1966-1970
Bruno Kreisky (SPÖ) 1970-1983
Alfred Sinowatz (SPÖ) 1983-1986
Franz Vranitzky (SPÖ) 1986-1997
Viktor Klima (SPÖ) 1997-2000
Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) Since 2000

 

The state secretaries

State secretaries may be assigned to a federal minister to assist in the conduct of business and represent the minister in parliament. The state secretaries are appointed and dismissed in the same way as federal ministers. They are bound by the instructions of their federal minister and are not members of the government. However, they may attend meetings of the Council of Ministers.

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Special federal authorities

School authorities

Special federal school authorities are active in the provinces in the area of education: the provincial school councils and the district school councils.

Security authorities

The Federal Ministry of the Interior heads the security administration. Each federal province has a security administration. The security director is appointed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in agreement with the provincial governor. The first instance of security administration is provided by the district administration authorities and the federal police authorities.

The military

The Austrian military is part of the public administration. The military falls under the authority of the Federal President as commander-in-chief and the Federal Minister for Defence.

All male citizens are liable for military service. Conscientious objectors released from military service must perform community service. Women may volunteer for military service.

The principle task of the armed forces is the military defence of the country. This is part of the comprehensive defence of the country, which also includes intellectual, economic and civil defence. Additional tasks of the armed forces include deployment during natural disasters, protection of constitutional institutions and operations abroad at the request of international organisations.

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Justice

The ordinary administration of justice, alongside the administration, is the second part of the federal executive branch. Justice is a federal legislative and executive matter. Courts are strictly federal institutions. Justice is hierarchically organised along the following lines: Supreme Court, Supreme Provincial Courts, Provincial Courts and District Courts.

Judges occupy a special position as the central institution in judicial affairs. This means that in the exercise of their functions they:

  • are independent: judges are not bound by any instructions in the exercise of their office
  • cannot be removed from office
  • cannot be transferred: judges may not be transferred or forced to retire against their will unless this is expressly provided for by law and the change of position is based on a formal judicial finding.

The tasks of the courts are allocated to the judges of a court in accordance with a schedule of cases. Deviations from this schedule are permitted only if a judge is incapacitated.

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Date: 01.01.2006