The Austrian Parliament
Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung)
When both chambers of the Austrian Parliament, the Nationalrat and the Bundesrat, convene jointly in public session, the gathering is referred to as the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung). The Federal Assembly comes together:
- for the swearing-in of the Federal President
- to endorse a declaration of war
The presidency of the Federal Assembly alternates between the President of the Nationalrat and the Chairperson of the Bundesrat.
If the Federal Assembly calls for a national referendum on the dismissal of the Federal President, this referendum must be carried out.
The Federal President may be prosecuted by the authorities only if the Federal Assembly has given its consent.
- The federal legislative functions are carried out by the Nationalrat in conjunction with the Bundesrat. The Nationalrat has its seat in the federal capital Vienna.
- The Nationalrat is elected by the populace (electorate) on the basis of an equal, direct, secret, representative and personal ballot. The electorate consists of all women and men who have completed their sixteenth year before January 1st of the year of the election.
- The country is divided into closed electoral areas whose borders must not cross the borders of the federal states. The electoral areas are in turn divided into closed regional constituencies.
- National parliamentary elections must be held on a Sunday or other public day of rest.
- All women and men who have completed their nineteenth year before January 1st of the year of the election and have Austrian citizenship are eligible to stand as candidates.
- The legislative term of the Nationalrat lasts for five years. The Nationalrat constitutes of 183 mandates.
- The newly elected Nationalrat must be convened by the Federal President within thirty days of the election. Every year the Federal President summons the Nationalrat to a regular session, and he may also convene extraordinary sessions of the Nationalrat.
- The Federal President is empowered to dissolve the Nationalrat, but he may do so only once on the same grounds.
- The sessions of the Nationalrat are open to the public.
- Federal legislation is enacted by the Nationalrat in conjunction with the Bundesrat. The Bundesrat represents the federal states, the number of deputies for each state being proportional to that state's population.
- The state with the largest population sends twelve deputies to the Bundesrat. The other states send proportionally fewer, although no state sends fewer than three deputies.
- After every general population census the Federal President reassesses the number of deputies to be sent to the Bundesrat by each federal state.
According to the latest assessment, dating from 1993, the federal states send the following numbers of deputies to the Bundesrat:
- Lower Austria - 12 deputies
- Vienna - 11 deputies
- Upper Austria - 11 deputies
- Styria - 10 deputies
- Tyrol - 5 deputies
- Carinthia - 5 deputies
- Salzburg - 4 deputies
- Vorarlberg - 3 deputies
- Burgenland - 3 deputies
- The members of the Bundesrat are elected by the State Legislators on the basis of proportional election for the duration of the latters' legislative terms. The political party with the second-largest number of seats in the State Legislation must be accorded at least one seat in the Bundesrat.
- The deputies to the Bundesrat do not have to belong to the State Legislation that sends them but they must be eligible for election by the State Legislation concerned.
- The presidency of the Bundesrat alternates on a half-yearly basis, passing from state to state in alphabetical order of their German names, with the first-ranking deputy of the state concerned assuming the presidency.
- The current incumbent of the presidency bears the title President of the Bundesrat.
- The Bundesrat is convened by its President at the seat of the Nationalrat.
- The State Governors are entitled to attend all negotiations conducted by the Bundesrat.
- The sessions of the Bundesrat are open to the public.