Chancellor of Austria

Last updated

Chancellor of Austria
Bundeskanzler der Republik Österreich
Austria Bundesadler.svg
Flag of Austria (state).svg
Alexander Schallenberg (51029203647).jpg
Incumbent
Alexander Schallenberg

since 11 October 2021
Executive Branch of Government
Chancellery of Austria
Style Mr. Chancellor
(standard)
His Excellency
(diplomatic)
Type Head of government
Status Supreme executive organ
Member of Cabinet
European Council
National Security Council
Residence Chancellery
Seat Ballhausplatz, Innere Stadt, Vienna
Nominator Political parties
Appointer President of Austria
Term length No fixed term
Constituting instrument Constitution of Austria
Precursor Minister-President of the Austrian Empire
Inaugural holder Karl Renner
Formation
  • Date created:
    1 October 1920
  • Date effective:
    10 November 1920
Deputy Vice Chancellor of Austria
Salary 306,446 per annum [1]
Website federal-chancellery.gv.at

The Federal Chancellor of Austria is the head of government of the Republic of Austria. The position corresponds to that of Prime Minister in several other parliamentary democracies.

Contents

Since 11 October 2021, Austria has been led by Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), following the resignation of Sebastian Kurz, of the same party. Both leaders formed a government with the Green Party to form what became an unprecedented variant of a coalition government at the federal level, but would not mark the first success of the environmentalist movement in national politics. Austria's nominally nonpartisan federal President, Alexander Van der Bellen, had made his name in Austrian politics as a Leader of the Greens. Austria has never yet had a female President. Brigitte Bierlein was the Second Republic's first Kanzlerin, albeit only of a nonpartisan caretaker government, between a vote of no confidence in Kurz's first government in June 2019 and the formation of his second in January 2020. [2]

The Chancellor's place in Austria's political system

Austria's chancellor chairs and leads the cabinet, which is composed of the Chancellor, the vice chancellor and the ministers. Together with the president, who is head of state, the cabinet forms the country's executive branch leadership.

Austria is a parliamentary republic, the system of government in which real power is vested in the head of government. However, in Austria most executive actions of great extent can only be exercised by the president, upon advice or with the countersignature of the chancellor or a specific minister. Therefore the chancellor often requires the president's consent to implement greater decisions. Furthermore neither the ministers nor the vice chancellor report to the chancellor.

In legislature, the chancellor's power depends on the size of their affiliated parliamentary group. In case of a coalition cabinet, the chancellor commonly is the leader of the party most represented in the National Council, with the leader of the party able to grant a majority, usually serving as the vice chancellor.

The first Austrian sovereign head of government was the State Chancellor of the Austrian Empire, a position only held by Klemens von Metternich. The office was later renamed to Minister-President of the Austrian Empire and remained from there on until the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. The first head of government after the monarchy was the State Chancellor of German-Austria, an office again only held by one person; Karl Renner. After allied powers declined a union between Austria and Germany, the office was renamed to just State Chancellor of Austria and later changed to Federal Chancellor, which remained the position's final form until present day.

The official residence and executive office of the chancellor is the chancellery, which is located at the Ballhausplatz in the center of Vienna. Both the chancellor as well as the cabinet are appointed by the president and can be dismissed by the president.

The current officeholder is Alexander Schallenberg, who was sworn in as chancellor on 11 October 2021 by President Alexander Van der Bellen.

History

The use of the term Chancellor (Kanzler, derived from Latin : cancellarius) as head of the chancery writing office can be traced back as far as the ninth century, when under King Louis the German the office of the Archchancellor (Erzkanzler), later Imperial Chancellor (Reichserzkanzler), was created as a high office on the service of the Holy Roman Emperor. [3] The task was usually fulfilled by the Prince-Archbishops of Mainz as Archchancellors of the German lands.

In the course of the Imperial reform, the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I in 1498 attempted to counter the spiritual power of the Reichserzkanzler with a more secular position of an Imperial Court Chancellor (Hofkanzler), but the two became merged. These were also the times when attempts were made to balance Imperial absolutism by the creation of Imperial Governments (Reichsregiment), ultimately a failure.

Habsburg Monarchy

Nevertheless, when Maximilian's grandson Ferdinand I succeeded him as Archduke of Austria in 1521, his elder brother Emperor Charles V (1519–1556) appointed Mercurino Gattinara as "Grand Chancellor of all the realms and kingdoms of the king" (Großkanzler aller Länder und Königreiche). The separate position of an Austrian Court Chancellor appeared as a Österreichische Hofkanzlei around 1526, when the Habsburg Monarchy arose with the Bohemian and Hungarian inheritance; it was however once again merged with the equivalent Reichshofkanzlei office of the Holy Roman Empire in 1559.

Upon the 1620 Battle of White Mountain and the suppression of the Bohemian revolt, Emperor Ferdinand II had separate Court Chancelleries established in order to strengthen the unity of the Habsburg hereditary lands. Beside a Bohemian and Hungarian chancellery, he created the office of an Austrian chancellor in Vienna, responsible for the Archduchy of Austria proper (i.e. Upper and Lower Austria) with the Inner Austrian territories and Tyrol. Under Emperor Leopold I (1658–1705) the term again became Hofkanzler with Johann Paul Freiherr von Hocher (1667–1683), and Theodor von Strattman (1683–1693). [4]

Federal Chancellery on Ballhausplatz, former Geheime Hofkanzlei Wien - Bundeskanzleramt1.JPG
Federal Chancellery on Ballhausplatz, former Geheime Hofkanzlei

The eighteenth century was dominated by Prince Wenzel Anton of Kaunitz-Rietberg (1753–1792), who was Chancellor to four Habsburg emperors from Maria Theresa to Francis II, with the titles of both Hofkanzler and Staatskanzler . He was succeeded by Johann Philipp von Cobenzl (1792–1793), who was dismissed by Emperor Francis II over the Partition of Poland and was succeeded by Johann Amadeus Francis de Paula (Baron Thugot) (1793–1800). Thugot's chancellorship did not survive the Austrian defeats by the French at the battles of Marengo and Hohenlinden in 1800 and he was replaced by Johan Ludwig Joseph Cobenzl (1800–1805), his predecessor's cousin, but who in turn was dismissed following the Austrian defeat at Austerlitz in 1805.

Austrian Empire

With the consequent dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and founding of the Austrian Empire, Francis II abdicated the former Imperial Throne, but remained Emperor Francis I of Austria in 1806. He had replaced Cobenzl with Johan Philip Charles Stadion (1805–1809) the previous year, but his career was in turn cut short in 1809 following yet another Austrian defeat by Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram and subsequent humiliation at the Treaty of Schönbrunn. Prince Klemens von Metternich was appointed by Francis I to the positions of Hofkanzler and Staatskanzler (1821–1848). However, there is some opinion that the Chancellor title was not used between Prince Kaunitz-Rietberg's resignation in 1792 and 1821. [5] As the Metternich system had become a synonym for his reactionary politics, the title of a State Chancellor was abolished upon the 1848 revolutions. The position became that of a Minister-President of Austria, equivalent to Prime Minister, with the exception of Count Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust (1867–1871) [4] [6] the title only re-emerging at the birth of German Austria after World War I in 1918, when Karl Renner was appointed Staatskanzler. With the enactment of the Constitution of Austria on 10 November 1920, the actual term Bundeskanzler was implemented as head of the executive branch of the First Austrian Republic.[ citation needed ]

Appointment

The Chancellor is appointed and sworn in by the President. [7] In theory, the President can appoint anyone eligible to be elected to the National Council, essentially meaning any Austrian national over the age of 18. [8] In practice, a Chancellor is unable to govern unless he or she commands the confidence of the National Council. For this reason, the Chancellor usually is the leader of the largest party in the National Council, or the senior partner in a coalition government. A notable exception to this occurred after the 1999 election. The Freedom Party won the most seats and went into coalition with the People's Party. While this would have normally made Freedom Party leader Jorg Haider Chancellor, he was deemed too controversial to be a member of the Cabinet, let alone Chancellor. He thus stepped aside in favour of People's Party leader Wolfgang Schüssel.

The Chancellor has no term limits. As a matter of constitutional convention, the Chancellor usually offers his or her resignation to the President upon dissolution of the National Council. The President usually declines and directs the Chancellor and his or her cabinet to operate as a caretaker government until a new National Council is in session and a new majority leader has emerged. In fact, the constitution expressly encourages the President to use a Chancellor as his or her own interim successor. [9]

A Chancellor is typically appointed or dismissed together with his or her ministers, which means the whole government. Technically, the President can only appoint ministers on advice of the Chancellor, so the Chancellor is appointed first. Having been sworn in, the Chancellor presents the President with his or her list of ministers; they will usually have been installed just minutes later. Neither Chancellors nor ministers need to be confirmed by either house of parliament; the appointees are fully capable of discharging the functions of their respective offices immediately after having been sworn in. [10]

The National Council can force the President to dismiss a Chancellor or a minister through a vote of no confidence. The President is constitutionally required to dismiss a cabinet member the National Council declares it wants gone. [11] Opposition parties will sometimes table votes of no confidence against ministers, and occasionally whole cabinets, in order to demonstrate criticism; these votes had not been expected to pass. The first successful vote of no confidence in Austrian federal politics took place in May 2019 when Sebastian Kurz was ousted as Chancellor. [12] [13]

Role and powers

Ministers Council room in the Federal Chancellery. Ministerrat.JPG
Ministers Council room in the Federal Chancellery.

The Chancellor chairs the meetings of the cabinet. The constitution does not vest the Chancellor with the authority to issue directions to ministers; it characterizes his or her role in the cabinet as that of a primus inter pares . [14] The power of the office to set policy derives partly from its inherent prestige, partly from the fact that the President is required to dismiss ministers the Chancellor requests removed, [10] and partly from the Chancellor's position of leadership in the party or coalition controlling the National Council.

Most articles of the constitution that mention the office of Chancellor are tasking the incumbent with notarizing decisions by the President or by various constitutional bodies, with ensuring that these decisions are duly announced to the general public, or with acting as an intermediary between various branches of government. In particular, the Chancellor

The Chancellor also convenes the Federal Assembly if the National Council moves to have the President removed from office, [18] or if the National Council moves to lift the immunity of the President from criminal prosecution. [22] In the former case, the Federal Assembly votes on whether to allow a referendum on the matter. In the latter case, the assent of the Federal Assembly is required for the President's immunity to be rescinded.

Finally, the Chancellor becomes Acting President if the President is incapacitated. However, if the President remains incapacitated beyond twenty days or has died, the role of Acting President is passed on to the three Presidents of the National Council. [23]

List of chancellors

See also

Related Research Articles

The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. "Head of government" is often differentiated from "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.

Politics of Austria Political system of Austria

Politics in Austria reflects the dynamics of competition among multiple political parties, which led to the formation of a Conservative-Green coalition government for the first time in January 2020, following the snap elections of 29 September 2019, and the election of a former Green Party leader to the presidency in 2016.

Chancellor is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the audience. A chancellor's office is called a chancellery or chancery. The word is now used in the titles of many various officers in various settings. Nowadays the term is most often used to describe:

President of Austria Head of state of the Republic of Austria

The president of Austria is the head of state of the Austrian Republic. Though theoretically entrusted with great power by the Constitution, in practice the president is largely a ceremonial and symbolic figurehead.

A minister-president or minister president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments with a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government where they preside over the council of ministers. It is an alternative term for prime minister, premier, chief minister, or first minister and very similar to the title of president of the council of ministers.

Constitution of Austria Principles, institutions and law of political governance in Austria

The Constitution of Austria is the body of all constitutional law of the Republic of Austria on the federal level. It is split up over many different acts. Its centerpiece is the Federal Constitutional Law (Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz) (B-VG), which includes the most important federal constitutional provisions.

Cabinet of Germany Chief executive body of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Federal Cabinet or Federal Government is the chief executive body of the Federal Republic of Germany. It consists of the Federal Chancellor and cabinet ministers. The fundamentals of the cabinet's organisation as well as the method of its election and appointment as well as the procedure for its dismissal are set down in articles 62 through 69 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz).

Ballhausplatz

Ballhausplatz is a square in central Vienna containing the building that for over two hundred years has been the official residence of the most senior Austrian Cabinet Minister, the State Chancellor, today the Chancellor of Austria. As a result, Ballhausplatz is often used as shorthand for the Austrian Federal Chancellery. Until 1918 the Foreign Ministry of Austria-Hungary was also housed here. Similar to Downing Street or the Hotel Matignon, the word Ballhausplatz is a synecdoche for the seat of power.

Government of Austria

The Government of Austria is the executive cabinet of the Republic of Austria. It is composed of the Chancellor, who is head of government, the Vice-Chancellor, and the ministers.

Michael Mayr Austrian politician

Michael Mayr was an Austrian politician, who served as Chancellor of Austria in the First Austrian Republic from July 1920 to June 1921. He was a member of the Christian Social Party, and by profession a historian.

Chancellor of Germany Head of government of Germany

The chancellor of Germany, officially the federal chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, is the head of government and chief executive of Germany, as well as the commander in chief of the German Armed Forces during wartime. The chancellor is elected by the Bundestag on the proposal of the federal president and without debate.

Chancellery (Austria)

In Austrian politics, the Chancellery is the ministry led by the chancellor. Since the establishment of the First Austrian Republic in 1918, the Chancellery building has also been serving as the venue for the sessions of the Austrian cabinet. It is located on the Ballhausplatz in the centre of Vienna, vis-à-vis the Hofburg Imperial Palace. Like Downing Street, Quai d'Orsay or – formerly – Wilhelmstrasse, the address has become a synecdoche for governmental power.

Sebastian Kurz Former Chancellor of Austria

Sebastian Kurz is an Austrian politician currently serving as chairman and parliamentary leader of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). He was twice chancellor of Austria, initially from December 2017 to May 2019 and then a second time from January 2020 to October 2021. For about four years, Kurz was the youngest head of government in the world as well as the youngest chancellor in Austrian history, being first elected into office at age 31.

Federal Constitutional Law (Austrian act)

The Federal Constitutional Law is the centerpiece of the Austrian Constitution; it comprises the Constitution's most important legal provisions. The Law defines Austria to be a democratic parliamentary republic with free multi-party elections and universal suffrage. It characterizes Austria as a federation consisting of nine federal states, but vests the supposed states that it creates with comparatively little autonomy.

Gernot Blümel Austrian politician

Gernot Blümel is an Austrian politician of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). He is Austria's finance minister since 2020. Since 2015, he has been the chairman of the Vienna branch of the ÖVP. Prior, he was Chancellery minister for European Affairs, Art, Culture, and Media from 2017 to 2019; he was also General Secretary of the ÖVP from 2013 to 2015.

Minister (Austria)

In Austrian constitutional law, a minister is a member of the national cabinet. Most ministers are responsible for a specific area of Austrian public administration and stand at the head of a specific department of the Austrian bureaucracy; ministers without portfolio exist and used to be common in the First Austrian Republic but are rare today. Most ministers control a ministry; some ministers control a section of the Chancellery, the ministry headed by the chancellor. A minister is the supreme executive organ within his or her area of responsibility: ministers do not take orders from either the president or the chancellor; their decisions are subject to judicial review but cannot be overruled by any other part of the executive branch.

Supreme executive organ

In Austrian constitutional law, a supreme executive organ , is an elected official, political appointee, or collegiate body with ultimate responsibility for a certain class of administrative decisions – either decisions in some specific area of public administration or decisions of some specific type. The president, for example, is the supreme executive organ with regards to appointing judges; the minister of justice is the supreme executive organ with regards to running the prosecution service; the president of the Constitutional Court is the supreme executive organ with regards to the operational management of the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court itself, on the other hand, is not a supreme organ because its decisions, while definitive, are judicial and not administrative in nature.

Ibiza affair 2019 political scandal in Austria

The Ibiza affair, also known as Ibiza-gate, was a political scandal in Austria involving Heinz-Christian Strache, the former vice chancellor of Austria and leader of the Freedom Party (FPÖ), and Johann Gudenus, a deputy leader of the Freedom Party.

Bierlein government

The Bierlein government was the 32nd Government of Austria following the collapse of the First Kurz government headed by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in the aftermath of the Ibiza affair. Sworn in on 3 June 2019, the Bierlein government was the first purely technocratic government in Austrian history, first interim government after a successful motion of no confidence in Parliament and first government headed by a female chancellor. As head of government, Brigitte Bierlein was assisted by Clemens Jabloner as vice-chancellor.

References

  1. "Politikergehälter: Was der österreichische Bundeskanzler verdient!". www.bruttonetto-rechner.at (in German). Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  2. "Austria's first female chancellor to lead interim government". www.thelocal.at. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  3. "Interdisziplinärer Arbeitskreis Kurmainz und der Erzkanzler des Reiches: Reichserzkanzler". Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  4. 1 2 Cambridge Modern History vol xiii 1911. Forgotten Books. 1902. Retrieved 20 September 2012 via Internet Archive.
  5. Kaisergruft: Metternich Archived 15 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Austria Forum Web Books Viewer". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  7. Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz article 70
  8. B-VG art. 26
  9. B-VG art. 71
  10. 1 2 B-VG art. 70
  11. B-VG art. 74
  12. What happens if Austria's chancellor is voted out? DW, 21 May 2019.
  13. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz ousted in no-confidence vote. euronews.com, 27 May 2019.
  14. B-VG art. 69
  15. B-VG art. 47
  16. B-VG art. 49
  17. B-VG art. 140
  18. 1 2 B-VG art. 60
  19. B-VG art. 37
  20. 1 2 B-VG art. 40
  21. B-VG art. 42a
  22. B-VG art. 63
  23. B-VG art. 64