Austria flag Austria: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Austria

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Alexander VAN DER BELLEN (since 26 January 2017)
Chancellor: Karl NEHAMMER (since 6 December 2021)
Next Election Dates
National Council: 2024
Presidential: April 2028
Current Political Context
The Austrian political landscape has been characterized by increasing polarization in the past few years. After being appointed as leader of the ÖVP by the federal party committee, Karl Nehammer was nominated as chancellor, leading a coalition government formed by the Austrian People's Party and the "Die Grünen" (The Greens). During 2023, the ÖVP has experienced a significant decline in public support, securing only 23% of votes and holding the third position in the summer 2023 polls, in contrast to the 37.5% it garnered in the previous general elections of 2019. Similarly, the coalition partner, the Greens’ support dropped from 13.9% during the elections to 10% in the summer of 2023, placing them in fourth position. The national-populist FPÖ has been gaining momentum and is currently heading the polls ahead of the next election scheduled for the autumn of 2024, ahead of the social-democrat SPÖ party. As various possible coalitions have been ruled out, alliances involving three parties, excluding any two of the major parties (FPÖ, SPÖ, or ÖVP), would lack the necessary support to establish a majority coalition.
Main Political Parties
Austria has a multi-party system. The main parties represented in the parliament include:

- Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP): centre-right, Christian democratic and conservative
- Social Democratic Party (SPÖ): centre-left,
- Freedom Party (FPÖ): right-wing, nationalist and anti-immigration
- The Greens (GRÜNE): centre-left
- The New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS): centre, liberal
Executive Power
The President is the Chief of State, while the Federal Chancellor is the Head of Government. The Federal Chancellor enjoys executive powers. The President is elected by direct popular vote for a six-year term and the Chancellor is traditionally chosen by the President from the majority party in the National Council. The Council of Ministers is chosen by the President on the advice of the Chancellor.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Austria is bicameral. The parliament consists of two chambers: The National Council (the lower house) whose 183 members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms, and the Federal Council (the upper house) whose 61 members are elected by provincial parliaments to serve five- or six-year terms. The President can dissolve the National Council on the recommendation of the Chancellor. The Federal Council only reviews legislation passed by the National Council and can delay but not veto its enactment. Most authority, including that of the police, rests with the federal Government but the states have considerable responsibility for welfare matters and local administration.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
17/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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Latest Update: February 2024