Federal Chancellor of Austria

Article

October 28, 2021

The Federal Chancellor of Austria (Bundeskanzler von Österreich), or simply the Chancellor (Kanzler), is the head of the Austrian federal government. He coordinates the work of ministers and ensures the representation of the government before Parliament and public opinion. Its political influence, in coalitions, depends on the strength of its parliamentary group. Currently, the Federal Chancellor is Alexander Schallenberg.

Institutional arrangements

Nomination

Since December 7, 1929, the Federal Chancellor has been appointed by the Federal President. Entirely free of choice, the Head of State is in fact forced to take into account the composition of the National Council, the lower house of Parliament.

Term of office

Theoretically, the chancellor's term of office is unlimited, unlike the Federal President (elected for six years) or the National Council (elected for five years since 2008, four years previously). Formally, its mandate is linked to the current legislature, even if it begins after its opening. Wolfgang Schüssel thus became Chancellor on February 4, 2000 when the legislative elections had taken place on October 3, 1999. It ends after the opening of a new one: the same Schüssel was replaced by Alfred Gusenbauer on January 11, 2007, the elections to the National Council were held on October 1, 2006. The government then ensures the management of current affairs until the appointment of a new chancellor and the formation of a new cabinet.

Functions and skills

"Primus inter pares"

Unlike the German Federal Chancellor, the Austrian Chancellor has no directing power over the Federal Government and its component ministers: he is only primus inter pares. But, since these same ministers are appointed and dismissed by the Federal President on his proposal, the Chancellor holds a preeminent place in the Austrian political system.

Management of the cabinet

The chancellor holds the presidency of the federal government. At least once a week, it meets in the Council of Ministers, in order to coordinate the action of the various ministerial departments. It is during these meetings that ministers present bills. If the text has the support of all ministers, it is sent to Parliament by the Chancellor so that he can follow the parliamentary procedure for adopting a legislative text. The promulgation of a law also requires the countersignature of the Chancellor. The power of the Chancellor depends on several factors: his personality, the strength of his party (reinforced factor in the case of a government coalition, very common in Austria) and his authority with his own party. But for public opinion, he is primarily responsible for federal policy.

Replacement of the Federal President

If the Federal President is unable to attend, the Federal Chancellor will assume his functions for 20 days. If the impediment exceeds this period, the first three presidents of the National Council jointly assume this function.

Countersignature

He countersigns, unless otherwise specified, the acts of the Federal President (without his countersignature or that of the competent minister, the act taken by the Federal President has no legal value).

Prevention

In the event of impediment, his functions are exercised by the Federal Vice-Chancellor. In the event that the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor are unable to attend, the Federal President entrusts representation to a member of the Federal Government, generally the oldest, or if there are several possibilities, to the oldest of these. If the Chancellor asks to be relieved of his duties, the Federal President entrusts the interim to a minister. If l

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