Austria is a federal Republic based on parliamentary democracy. The Republic of Austria (its official name) has nine provinces with their own provisional governors.
President is the chief of the state and the Federal Chancellor is the head of the government. Chancellor enjoys the executive powers. P resident 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. Council of Ministers is chosen by the President on the advice of the Chancellor.
The legislature in Austria is bicameral. The parliament consists of two chambers: National Council (the lower house), its members elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms, and Federal Council (the upper house) with its members elected by provincial parliaments to serve five- or six-year terms. P resident can dissolve the National Council on 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. Austrian's enjoy considerable political rights.
The judiciary is independent in Austria. Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. The Austrian laws are based on the constitution of 1920 ( revised in 1929 and reinstated in1945); originating from Roman laws and judicial reviews of legislative acts by the Constitutional Court. Austria being a member of the European Union, the laws in the country need to comply with the conditions of the Community legislation. Austria accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The judicial language is German which is accepted nationwide, although some of the states also have their own additional official languages.
Austria is ruled by law. Foreign nationals in Austria enjoy treatment at par with the natives from the country's judicial system, including the commercial disputes. Corruption is considerable low in the country. Austria is a member of the Council of Europe and its citizens have recourse to the European Court of Human Rights.
Major political parties
The major political parties in the country are: OVP (the conservative People's Party), SPO (Social Democratic Party), FPO (the right-wing Freedom Party), and the Greens. OVP finds support from farmers, large and small business owners and some Catholic groups, mostly in the rural regions of Austria; while as the SPO traditionally draws its constituency from blue- and white-collar workers.
Major political leaders
President: Heinz FISCHER (since July 2004) – SPO
Chancellor: Wolfgang SCHUESSEL (sine February 2000, re-elected in November 2002) - OVP
Next political election dates
Presidential election: April 2010
National Council election: In the fall of 2006