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Elections in Austria

Federal Parliamentary System

The Federal Parliament is bi-cameral:

  • Nationalrat (National Council: 183 members)
  • Bundesrat (Federal Council: currently 61 members)

National Council

Elections to the National Council must take place every five years at the latest. All Austrian citizens who turn 16 on election day are entitled to vote (active voting right).

All Austrian citizens who turn 18 on election day have the right to be elected (passive voting right). Citizens lose their voting rights only if they were convicted of a criminal offence exceeding one year of imprisonment.

Elections take place based on the principles of proportional representation, a closed list system, and preferential votes. All campaigning groups need supportive signatures by three members of the National Council or 2,600 declarations of support in order to run nationwide for national parliamentary elections. The foundation of a political party is not required to stand for an election. Austrian election legislation refers to “campaigning groups” rather than political parties.

183 seats are allocated to the individual groups seeking election based on the percentage of votes they win in the election (“Hare Method”). For the purposes of distributing seats in the National Council, the Republic of Austria is divided into nine provincial constituencies (identical with the nine provinces) which are further divided into 39 regional constituencies.

Seats are assigned in the course of a three-stage process:

  1. Regional Constituencies
  2. Provincial Constituencies
  3. Final nationwide assignment process on the basis of the "d’Hondt Rule" of highest average, applied to each party’s surplus votes; 4 % threshold for parties to gain representation

Federal Council

In contrast to the National Council, the Federal Council is not elected directly elected. Its members are delegated by the provincial diets in accordance with the proportional distribution of political parties in each provincial diet. The number of representatives dispatched by each federal province is determined by the population of that province. The largest province sends twelve and the smallest at least three representatives. As the population of the provinces changes, the number of mandates they are entitled to in the Federal Council also changes. The number of mandates is recalculated every ten years according to the census. Subsequently, the Federal President issues a resolution stipulating how many representatives each province can delegate to the Federal Council. For this reason, the overall number of members in the Federal Council is not predetermined. Currently, the Federal Council numbers 61 members.

The Federal Council issues federal legislation in conjunction with the National Council, and has (limited) powers to veto laws passed by the National Council.

Federal Ministry of the Interior
Department III/6 - Electoral Affairs
P.O. Box 100, A-1014 Vienna
Phone: +43-(0)1-53126-2464
e-mail: wahl@bmi.gv.at

BM.I Bundesministerium für Inneres, Abteilung III/6, Postfach 100, A-1014 Wien, Telefon: +43-(0)1-53126-2464 |  Kontakt

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