The Federal Chancellor
Christian Kern was sworn in as Austria’s Federal Chancellor on May 17th, 2016. He also serves as Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ).
Mr. Kern was born in Vienna in 1966. He studied sociology, political science and communications at the University of Vienna. After working as a journalist and in the Austrian Parliament and Federal Chancellery, Mr. Kern launched a career in the energy sector in 1997. At Verbund AG, Austria’s largest energy utility, he was appointed to the group’s management board in 2007. He then switched to the Austrian Federal Railways Group, where he served as Chairman of the Management Board from 2010 onward. In this capacity, he also became Chairman of the Brussels-based Community of European Railways (CER) in 2014. Under Mr. Kern's leadership, the Austrian Federal Railways investigated the railway operator's role during the Nazi era in a project entitled "Suppressed Years".
Responsibilities and Functions
The Austrian Federal Chancellor is the head of government. However, he does not have the authority to direct the other members of the Cabinet.
The Chancellor and the other members of the Austrian Cabinet chosen upon his advice are appointed or removed from office by the Federal President of Austria (head of state). Neither the appointment of the Chancellor nor the appointment of the members of the Austrian Cabinet needs to be confirmed by the Austrian Parliament. However, the Parliament can pass a vote of no confidence against individual members of the Cabinet or the entire administration. As a consequence, the Cabinet or the respective Minister would have to resign.
The Vice-Chancellor acts as a deputy to the Chancellor in all his spheres of responsibilities. If both – the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor – are simultaneously unavailable, the Federal President appoints a cabinet member to act as a deputy to the Chancellor.
The Chancellor countersigns the federal acts executed by the President. If the President is unavailable, all his duties are assigned to the Chancellor for a period not to exceed 20 days.