Austrian Federal Government

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The Austrian Federal Government (German: Österreichische Bundesregierung) is a collective body of the highest-ranking officers of the Austrian executive branch. It consists of the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and the other federal ministers of the Austrian cabinet. Together with the President, the Government forms the supreme federal authority.

Nomination[edit]

Since the 1929 reform of the Austrian Constitution, all members of the Federal Government are appointed by the Austrian Federal President (according to Article 70 of the Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz (B-VG)[1]), who nevertheless has to seek a consensus with the National Council parliament, since a vote of no confidence would immediately enforce their dismissal. In practical terms usually the leader of the strongest political party, who ran as "chancellor candidate" in the parliamentary election, is asked to become Federal Chancellor; although there have been exceptions in the past. The nominations of the ministers takes place at the suggestion of the Chancellor, notwithstanding the President is able to withhold his approval.

Likewise, the President is able to dismiss the Chancellor or the Austrian cabinet as a whole at any time — nevertheless with due regard to the majorities in parliament to build a new government.

Functioning[edit]

Cabinet room in the Austrian Chancellery

The Chancellor presides over the cabinet meetings as primus inter pares without decisional authority, regardless of his right of proposal concerning the appointment of the government's members by the President. The cabinet assembly (Ministerrat) adopts resolutions in the presence of at least half of its members and, according to the ruling of the Austrian Constitutional Court, unanimously — in particular the introduction of bills to the National Council.

Each federal minister is also responsible for his or her own ministry and may be supported by one or more state secretaries, who also participate in the cabinet's meetings. They are however not considered Government members and have no right to vote in the proceedings.

Current cabinet[edit]

The incumbent Austrian cabinet is a grand coalition government formed by the left-wing Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the right-wing Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). It was appointed on 16 December 2013 by President Heinz Fischer (SPÖ) upon the 2013 legislative election. After the resignation of Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger, it was reshuffled in September 2014.

The current members are:

Office Holder Party
Federal Chancellor
Minister of the Chancellery for Arts, Culture, Media and Civil Servants
Werner Faymann
Josef Ostermayer (de)
SPÖ
Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy (de)
Vice-Chancellor of Austria
Reinhold Mitterlehner ÖVP
Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz ÖVP
Federal Minister of Family and Youth (de) Sophie Karmasin (de) Non-party
Federal Minister of Health (de) Sabine Oberhauser (de) SPÖ
Federal Minister of the Interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner ÖVP
Federal Minister of Justice Wolfgang Brandstetter (de) Non-party
Federal Minister of National Defence and Sport Gerald Klug SPÖ
Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forests, Environment and Water Management (de) Andrä Rupprechter (de) ÖVP
Federal Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (de) Rudolf Hundstorfer (de) SPÖ
Federal Minister for Education and Women Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek SPÖ
Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology Alois Stöger SPÖ
Federal Minister of Finance Hans Jörg Schelling (de) ÖVP

Historical[edit]

First Republic[edit]

After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the provisional national assembly of German Austria on 30 October 1918 elected a State Council (Staatsrat) executive, which itself appointed a state government with the Social Democratic politician Karl Renner as head of the State Chancellery. The Renner ministry was composed of representatives of the three main political parties—Social Democrats, the Christian Social Party (CS) and German Nationalists (Greater Germans)—according to the Proporz doctrine. As acting executive body it remained in office until the Constitutional Assembly of the Austrian First Republic on 15 March 1919 elected Renner's second cabinet, a coalition government of Social Democratic and Christian Social ministers.

State Chancellor Renner had signed the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, whereafter his cabinet retired en bloc. Re-elected by the Constitutional Assembly on 17 October 1919, his third cabinet finally was overturned with the break-up of the SPÖ-CS coalition on 7 July 1920. Renner was succeeded by the Christian Social politician Michael Mayr, who with the commencement of the Austria Constitution on 10 November 1920 became first Federal Chancellor of Austria. Mayr and his successors proceeded with the support of the Christian Social Party and the Greater German nationalists, while the Social Democrats remained in opposition.

From 5 March 1933 onwards, the Christian Social chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß kept on ruling by suppression of the National Council parliament. In the course of the Austrian Civil War he brought down the opposition and on 1 May 1934 implemented the authoritarian Federal State of Austria. All parties were banned, except for the Fatherland's Front supporting Dollfuß' Austrofascist government. The Federal Government discontinued with the Anschluss incorporation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 13 March 1938.

Second Republic[edit]

On 27 April 1945 an provisional Austrian national unity government, again under a State Chancellor Karl Renner, declared the Anschluss null and void. It prepared the The elections to the Austrian National Council held on 25 November. On 20 December 1945, the Austrian Constitution was officially re-enacted, with ÖVP founder Leopold Figl forming the first post-war Federal Government.

List of cabinets since 1945:

Governments of Austria
Name of Government Duration of Government Chancellor Vice-Chancellor Parties Involved
Renner April 27, 1945–December 20, 1945 Karl Renner1 N/A ÖVP, SPÖ, KPÖ
Figl I December 20, 1945–November 8, 1949 Leopold Figl (ÖVP) Adolf Schärf (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ, KPÖ
Figl II November 8, 1949–October 28, 1952 Leopold Figl (ÖVP) Adolf Schärf (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Figl III October 28, 1952–April 2, 1953 Leopold Figl (ÖVP) Adolf Schärf (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Raab I April 2, 1953–June 29, 1956 Julius Raab (ÖVP) Adolf Schärf (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Raab II June 29, 1956–July 16, 1959 Julius Raab (ÖVP) Adolf Schärf (SPÖ), Bruno Pittermann (SPÖ)² ÖVP, SPÖ
Raab III July 16, 1959–November 3, 1960 Julius Raab (ÖVP) Bruno Pittermann (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Raab IV November 3, 1960–April 11, 1961 Julius Raab (ÖVP) Bruno Pittermann (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Gorbach I April 11, 1961–March 27, 1963 Alfons Gorbach (ÖVP) Bruno Pittermann (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Gorbach II March 27, 1963–April 2, 1964 Alfons Gorbach (ÖVP) Bruno Pittermann (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Klaus I April 2, 1964–April 19, 1966 Josef Klaus (ÖVP) Bruno Pittermann (SPÖ) ÖVP, SPÖ
Klaus II April 19, 1966–April 21, 1970 Josef Klaus (ÖVP) Fritz Bock (ÖVP), Hermann Withalm (ÖVP)³ ÖVP
Kreisky I April 21, 1970–November 4, 1971 Bruno Kreisky (SPÖ) Rudolf Häuser (SPÖ) SPÖ
Kreisky II November 4, 1971–October 28, 1975 Bruno Kreisky (SPÖ) Rudolf Häuser (SPÖ) SPÖ
Kreisky III October 28, 1975–June 5, 1979 Bruno Kreisky (SPÖ) Rudolf Häuser (SPÖ), Hannes Androsch (SPÖ)4 SPÖ
Kreisky IV June 5, 1979–May 24, 1983 Bruno Kreisky (SPÖ) Hannes Androsch (SPÖ), Fred Sinowatz (SPÖ)5 SPÖ
Sinowatz May 24, 1983–June 16, 1986 Fred Sinowatz (SPÖ) Norbert Steger (FPÖ) SPÖ, FPÖ
Vranitzky I June 16, 1986–January 21, 1987 Franz Vranitzky (SPÖ) Norbert Steger (FPÖ) SPÖ, FPÖ
Vranitzky II January 21, 1987–December 17, 1990 Franz Vranitzky (SPÖ) Alois Mock (ÖVP), Josef Riegler (ÖVP)6 SPÖ, ÖVP
Vranitzky III December 17, 1990–November 29, 1994 Franz Vranitzky (SPÖ) Josef Riegler (ÖVP), Erhard Busek (ÖVP)7 SPÖ, ÖVP
Vranitzky IV November 29, 1994–March 12, 1996 Franz Vranitzky (SPÖ) Erhard Busek (ÖVP), Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP)8 SPÖ, ÖVP
Vranitzky V March 12, 1996–January 28, 1997 Franz Vranitzky (SPÖ) Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) SPÖ, ÖVP
Klima January 28, 1997–February 4, 2000 Viktor Klima (SPÖ) Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) SPÖ, ÖVP
Schüssel I February 4, 2000–February 28, 2003 Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) Susanne Riess-Passer (FPÖ) ÖVP, FPÖ
Schüssel II February 28, 2003–January 11, 2007 Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) Herbert Haupt (FPÖ), Hubert Gorbach (FPÖ/BZÖ)9 ÖVP, FPÖ, BZÖ
Gusenbauer January 11, 2007–December 2, 2008 Alfred Gusenbauer (SPÖ) Wilhelm Molterer (ÖVP) SPÖ, ÖVP
Faymann I December 2, 2008–December 16, 2013 Werner Faymann (SPÖ) Josef Pröll (ÖVP), Michael Spindelegger (ÖVP)10 SPÖ, ÖVP
Faymann II December 16, 2013–present Werner Faymann (SPÖ) Michael Spindelegger (ÖVP) SPÖ, ÖVP

Notes

1) Karl Renner acted only as a supervisor of the provisional government
2) As Adolf Schärf was elected as the President of Austria, Bruno Pittermann acted as the vice-chancellor from May 22, 1957.
3) From January 19, 1968 afterwards, Hermann Withalm acted as the vice-chancellor.
4) Rudolf Häuser acted as the vice-chancellor until September 30, 1976. From October 1, 1976, Hannes Androsch acted as the vice-chancellor.
5) Fred Sinowatz acted as the vice-chancellor from January 20, 1981.
6) Until April 24, 1989, Alois Mock acted as the vice-chancellor. From April 24, 1989, Josef Riegler acted as the vice-chancellor.
7) From July 2, 1991, Erhard Busek acted as the vice-chancellor.
8) From May 4, 1995, Wolfgang Schüssel acted as the vice-chancellor.
9) Until October 20, 2003, Herbert Haupt acted as the vice-chancellor. From October 21, 2003, Hubert Gorbach acted as the vice-chancellor. Until April 17, 2005, Gorbach's party affiliation was FPÖ, then BZÖ.
10) Until April 20, 2011, Josef Pröll acted as the vice-chancellor. From April 21, 2011, Michael Spindelegger acted as the vice-chancellor.
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Traditional colours
Austrian People's Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP)
Social Democratic Party of Austria (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs, SPÖ), until 1991: Socialist Party of Austria
Communist Party of Austria (Kommunistische Partei Österreichs, KPÖ)
Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ)
Alliance for the Future of Austria (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, BZÖ)
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Source: Kanzler und Regierungen seit 1945. Federal Chancellery of Austria Web Site. Vienna, Federal Chancellery of Austria 2006. German English

External links[edit]