Federal Chancellor (Austria)

Article

October 17, 2021

The Federal Chancellor is the head of government of the Republic of Austria; he chairs and conducts the business of the federal government. In its entirety, this consists of the Federal Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. As a collegial body, they are entrusted with the highest administrative business of the federal government, insofar as these are not the responsibility of the Federal President (Art. 69, Paragraph 1 B-VG). In sole governments with only one party, he is the most powerful politician in the country in terms of realpolitik; in coalition governments, his influence depends on the strength of his parliamentary group. The official seat of the Federal Chancellor is the Federal Chancellery on Ballhausplatz opposite the Presidential Chancellery in the Hofburg. Alexander Schallenberg has been Federal Chancellor since October 11, 2021. On October 9, 2021, Sebastian Kurz announced his resignation and proposed the previous Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, to the Federal President as his successor, who was sworn in on October 11, 2021.

Federal Chancellor and his cabinet

Appointment

Since the amendment to the constitution of December 7, 1929 (Federal Law Gazette 392/1929), the Federal President (until then the Federal Government was elected by the National Council), who is de jure completely free to choose a person, has been de facto appointed by the Federal Chancellor takes into account the majority in the National Council. The formal prerequisite for being appointed as a member of the Federal Government and thus also as Federal Chancellor is eligibility for membership in the National Council in accordance with Art. 70 Para. 2 B-VG (Art. 70 Para. 2 B-VG). Furthermore, Paragraph 2 stipulates that “the members of the Federal Government […] do not [have to] belong to the National Council”. Conversely, this means that the Federal Chancellor and the other members of the government can also be members of the National Council at the same time, but in realpolitik this is no longer the case, as was the case with Bruno Kreisky, for example the federal government for his cabinet for appointment. The Federal Government (and with it the Federal Chancellor) is able to act immediately after swearing in and signing the appointment documents; confirmation by the National Council is not required. The National Council can, however, at any time express the mistrust of the federal government or individual federal ministers, which obliges the federal president to dismiss the government or the government member. The Federal President also dismisses individual ministers at the suggestion of the Federal Chancellor. However, the head of state can dismiss the entire government without a proposal.

Term of office

The term of office of the Federal Chancellor is not limited in time like that of the Federal President or the National Council; the appointment is for an unlimited period. The appointment of the Federal Chancellor and the other Federal Ministers by the Federal President has nothing constitutionally to do with the elections to the National Council, nor with the term of office and the popular election of the Federal President. In fact, it mostly correlates with elections to the National Council. The federal government normally submits its resignation (resignation) to the Federal President after an election to the National Council. The resigning government will be “charged with the continuation of business” by the Federal President until a new government has been appointed, and will therefore remain in office until the new government is sworn in. The resignation is not legally mandatory, but it makes sense, as the Federal President could otherwise dismiss the government on his own initiative or the new National Council could express its mistrust (which would force the Federal President to dismiss).

Resignation

The federal government can decide to resign at any time

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