Politics in Austria

Elections “Austria is a democratic republic. Its law emanates from the people.” Thus reads Article 1 of the federal constitution. Elections constitute the most important moment of political decision making. All of the political institutions established by the constitution are elected in three elections: Citizens decide on the Bundespräsident (Federal President), the Nationalrat (National Council) and the Landtage (Provicial Parliaments) via the ballots distributed in these elections. Elections are held in accordance with the universally equal right to vote and the right to a secret ballot. Men have had these rights since 1907, and women since 1918. EU citizens living in Austria have been able to take part in municipal elections since Austria joined the EU. Naturally, the Austrian population also elects its representatives in the EU Parliament.Along with general elections, the constitution also provides instruments of direct democracy.

Source: Statistics Austria

"Reichsratsaal" in the Austrian Parliament in Vienna  Picture: Österreich Werbung, Robert Pfeifer

"Reichsratsaal" in the Austrian Parliament in Vienna
 Picture: Österreich Werbung, Robert Pfeifer

A geographic approach

Picture: Österreich Werbung, Wolfgang Weinhäupl

Picture: Österreich Werbung, Wolfgang Weinhäupl

Austria has a land area of 83 879 km² and is thus somewhat smaller than Portugal and Hungary and somewhat larger than the Czech Republic. Located in the southern part of Central Europe, the republic shares borders with Germany and the Czech Republic in the north, the Slovak Republic and Hungary in the east, Slovenia and Italy in the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein in the west. There are 573 km between the western and easternmost points of Austria. The longest north-south stretch totals 294 km.

The landscape of Austria is characterized by diversity. Major landscape features include the gneiss and granite highlands of the Bohemian Massif, the foothills of the Alps and the Carpathians, the Alps, the Vienna Basin, and the border regions of the Hungarian lowlands. 350 km of the “beautiful blue Danube” of musical fame, and thus almost an eighth of its entire course, flow through Austrian territory. The republic shares its largest lake with Germany and Switzerland. Lake Constance has a surface area of 538.5 km² and it is 252 m deep. The 3 798 m high Grossglockner is Austria’s highest mountain. It is located at the border of Carinthia and East Tyrol. With 114 m above sea level, Austria’s lowest point is located in Burgenland, in the Seewinkel region near Apetlon.

Due to the geographic location, Austria’s weather is characterized as a transitional climate. Consequently, an oceanic climate with moist westerly winds predominates in western Austria, and as one moves eastward, the climate becomes increasingly continental with decreasing precipitation, hot summers, and cold winters. In addition, the local climate is strongly influenced by the altitude, local topography, and exposure to the prevailing westerly weather conditions.

Source: Statistics Austria

Picture: Statistics Austria

Picture: Statistics Austria

Picture: Statistics Austria

Picture: Statistics Austria