Federal Council (Austria)
|Type||Upper house of the Federal Assembly of Austria|
|President of the Federal Council||Georg Keuschnigg, ÖVP
Since 1 July 2012
|Bundesrat Political groups|
|Bundesrat Voting system||Appointment by State diets|
|Bundesrat Last election||No general election|
Innere Stadt, Vienna
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
The Federal Council (German: Bundesrat (pronounced [ˈbʊndəsʁaːt]) is the second chamber of the Austrian parliament, representing the nine States of Austria (Bundesländer) on federal level. As part of a bicameral legislature alongside of the National Council of Austria (Nationalrat), it can be compared with an upper house or a senate. In fact, however, it is far less powerful than the National Council: although it has to approve every new law decided for by this "lower" chamber, the latter can - in most cases - overrule the Bundesrat´s refusal to approve. The Bundesrat has its seat at the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna, in a conclave of the former Herrenhaus chamber of the Imperial Council (Reichsrat).
The 62 members of the Federal Council (Bundesräte) are elected according to proportional representation by each of the Austrian states' legislatures (Landtage) for 4- to 6-year terms. The composition of the Bundesrat therefore changes after every state election and the distribution of seats in the Austrian Landtage. The second largest faction of the particular Landtag has the right to designate at least one deputy. The number of representatives delegated by each Bundesland ranges between three and twelve, depending on its population as ascertained by a regular census; it is fixed per presidential decree.
Though the Federal Council has no strong party discipline, the deputies may ally along party lines and form political groups, which have to meet a quorum of five seats, if not admitted by particular resolution (as in case of the FPÖ). There are currently three groups in the Bundesrat:
|Lower Austria||12||7||3||1||1||(Team Stronach)|
The President of the Federal Council is nominated by the largest party of each state in half-yearly intervals.
As the Constitution of Austria (B-VG) draws a strict distinction between federal and state legislation, its Article 42 provides the Bundesrat only with the right to veto federal laws passed by the National Council. Morevover in most cases a Federal Council's veto is just suspensive, meaning the National Council can override it, passing the law again by ordinary resolution of at least half of its members. Therefore, the decisions of the Bundesrat can only delay legislation.
In the following cases, though, the Federal Council's approval is mandatory:
- Constitutional laws or regulations limiting the competencies of the federal states
- Laws relating to the rights of the Federal Council itself
- Treaties concerning the jurisdiction of the federal states.
Since its inauguration on 10 November 1920, the deputies of Bundesrat have never achieved the status of a counterbalance in relation to the National Council. Over the decades the role of the Federal Council as a mere adjunct of the Austrian parliament has led to several discussions upon regulatory reforms, towards an actual representation of the states' governments modeled on the German Bundesrat or the complete abolition of the second chamber. So far, the concept has been maintained as a manifestation of Austria's federal system.
See also 
- List of Presidents of the Federal Council of Austria
- National Council (Austria)
- Federal Assembly of Austria
- Politics of Austria
- List of legislatures by country
- For the current composition see: (German) "Mitglieder des Bundesrates, die derzeit ein Mandat innehaben". Website of the Austrian Parliament. Retrieved 2010-10-04.
- "The Members of the Federal Council – Parliamentary Groups". Website of the Austrian Parliament. Retrieved 2010-10-04.
- "The Responsibilities of the Federal Council – The Federal Council's Right of Objection". Website of the Austrian Parliament. Retrieved 2010-10-04.