The Federal Chancellor
Incumbent: Dr. Brigitte Bierlein
On June 3, 2019, Brigitte Bierlein was sworn in by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen as Federal Chancellor of Austria.
Brigitte Bierlein was born on June 25, 1949, in Vienna. She went to school in Vienna and graduated from Gymnasium Kundmanngasse in 1967. She went on to study law at the University of Vienna and received her doctorate of law in 1971.
In 1975, Bierlein passed her magistracy exam, after which she started working as a judge at the Inner City of Vienna District Court and the Vienna Criminal District Court. In 1977, she left the bench to join the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office; as a public prosecutor, Bierlein was responsible for general and political criminal affairs as well as for criminal affairs pursuant to media law. From 1977 to 1979 she was a member of the Austrian Food Codex Commission (Lebensmittel-Codexkommission).
In 1986, Bierlein was promoted to the Vienna Senior Public Prosecutor’s Office. In 1987, she started working for the Directorate general for Criminal Law at the Austrian Ministry of Justice, before returning to her position at the Vienna Senior Public Prosecutor’s Office.
From 1990 to 2002, Brigitte Bierlein served as Advocate General of the Procurator General’s Office at the Austrian Supreme Court of Justice. From 1990 to 2010, she was a member of the Board of Examiners for Judges and Prosecutors at the Vienna State Court of Appeals and from 1995 she was also a member of the Executive Board of the Association of Austrian Prosecutors, serving as the association’s president from 2001 to 2003. From 2001 to 2004, Bierlein also served on the Executive Board of the International Association of Public Prosecutors (IAP).
Bierlein served as Vice-President of the Austrian Constitutional Court from 2003 to 2018, before being sworn in as its President on February 23, 2018 – a position she held until her appointment as Austrian Federal Chancellor on June, 3, 2019.
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.
Source: Federal Chancellery of Austria (Bundeskanzleramt Oesterreich)