The Political System
Austria is a democratic republic. Its head of state (the Federal President) and its legislative organs are elected by the populace. Citizens of Austria have been guaranteed basic rights and freedoms (such as freedom of belief and conscience) since 1867. Austria has ratified the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of November 4, 1950.
Austria is a federal republic, composed of nine constituent federal states: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Upper Austria, Vienna and Vorarlberg. Vienna is also the nation''s capital. Federal legislation is enacted by the two chambers of Parliament, the ''Nationalrat'' and the ''Bundesrat''. The latter chamber represents the interests of the federal states. The state diets exercise the legislative power of the federal states.
The 183 deputies in the ''Nationalrat'' are elected by the populace every four years. The members of the state diets are elected by the population of the federal state concerned. The members of the ''Bundesrat'' - currently 62 - are nominated by the state diets.
After the last national parliamentary election on September 28, 2008, the distribution of seats is as follows: 57 Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), 51 Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), 34 Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), 20 The Greens (Grüne), 21 Alliance Future Austria (BZÖ).
The supreme federal executive organs are the Federal President and the members of the Federal Government, headed by the Federal Chancellor. The supreme state executive organs are the State Governments, each headed by the State Governor.
On October 26, 1955 the ''Nationalrat'' enacted a federal constitutional law declaring Austria to be a permanently neutral state.