How does the government control the whole nation

The basic democratic order of Austria

4. Austria as a democracy

1. What characterizes a democracy?

“Democracy” means “rule of the people”.

The term “democracy” means “rule of the people”. The opposite of this is a dictatorship in which one ruler or one party determines everything. The idea of ​​democracy originated in ancient times - in ancient Greece. What we mean by “democracy” has changed a lot since then.

The Austrian Federal Constitution gives all Austrian citizens aged 16 and over the right to vote.


Political participation and, in particular, the right to vote are the most important characteristics of a democracy.

2. Why is Austria a democracy?

There is democracy in Austria in many areas of life.

The Austrian Federal Constitution stipulates: “Austria is a democratic republic. Your right comes from the people. "

The first democratic elections in Austria took place in the revolutionary year of 1848. However, universal and equal suffrage for men was not introduced until 1907. Women were allowed to vote for the first time in the first elections of the Republic of Austria in 1919.


The Federal Constitution gives all citizens who are entitled to vote the right to participate in political events in the state. Austrian citizens aged 16 and over are allowed to vote. Citizens of other EU countries living in Austria are also allowed to cast their votes in municipal council elections and elections to the EU Parliament.

Indirect and direct democracy


There are two different forms of democracy: indirect and direct democracy.


>> Indirect democracy means: the people elect their representatives
(= elected MPs). These MPs advise and
pass laws.


>> Direct democracy means: the people can themselves directly
about resolutions of the National Council and important questions for the
Society decide.

Indirect participation in legislation means that the population elects MPs for the National Council, the state parliaments and for the European Parliament. These MPs then decide for the population.


In contrast to this, the Federal President is elected directly by the people. The constitution also provides for various forms of direct democracy (referendum, referendum, referendum).


There are elections and votes in many areas of life: for example, works councils, class representatives, school representatives, representatives of the parents in the school community, representatives of the students at universities or interest groups are elected.

The suffrage


All Austrian citizens from their 16th birthday have the right to elect their political representatives in the federal government, in the respective federal state, in their own municipality and members of the European Parliament. This right is called the right to vote. As they make political decisions for all of us, it is important that citizens' participation is guaranteed. The following principles therefore apply to every election: In Austria, the right to vote is ...


1 General: all citizens have the right to vote and be elected from a certain age;


2. same: each vote counts equally;


3. immediately: A party or a candidate is directly elected;


4. personal: each vote must be cast personally (voters cannot send someone else to vote);


5. secret: the name of the voter is not noted on the voting slip. It cannot and must not be determined who is voting which party and which candidate;


6. free: voting must be free of compulsion.

Federal laws apply to all of Austria.

The election of the National Council


The National Council consists of the members of parliament who are elected by Austrian citizens. It passes federal laws together with the Federal Council. In addition, the National Council controls the federal government.

The meetings of the National Council and the Federal Council are open to the public (

The election of the members of the National Council is called the National Council election. It takes place no later than five years after the last National Council election. This choice decides how many MPs each party has. It usually also depends on how power is distributed in the new government.

A coalition is the union of two or more parties.

If neither party has an absolute majority in parliament, there is usually a coalition of two or more parties. These parties then form the government (coalition government). The other parties that are not involved in the federal government are called the opposition. You control the federal government.

An absolute majority in parliament means: more than half of all MPs. The National Council has 183 members.

A government needs the support of more than half of all MPs. Because a majority of the members of the National Council can force the removal of the federal government at any time.

Parliaments: legislation and control


In Austria, parliament is responsible for federal legislation. The Austrian Parliament consists of the National Council and the Federal Council.


There are 183 members in the National Council. They are elected in the National Council election. The most important task of the National Council is to advise on draft laws and as Federal laws to decide. Federal laws are laws that apply throughout Austria.


Another important task of the National Council is to control the federal government.


The parliaments of the federal states are called state parliaments. The state parliaments decide State laws. State laws are laws that only apply to the respective federal state.


Political parties


A political party is an association of people with similar political goals. Political parties want to influence the state and society. Therefore the political parties try to be elected by the citizens. Especially before elections, political parties advertise their goals, but also advertise their candidates. Through this election campaign and the party platforms, voters can find out about the various political positions.


The most important tasks of political parties are:


1. They represent the interests of the population or the interests
certain social groups and professional groups.


2. You participate in the formation of public opinion.


3. You are part of the government, or you control it as the opposition

Referendum, referendum and referendum


Citizens have the opportunity to directly participate in political issues. This option is available in a referendum, a referendum and a referendum.

A major referendum took place in 1994. The citizens voted on whether Austria should join the European Union. The majority voted “Yes” at the time.

At a Referendum will be voted on a law of the National Council. The voters can then vote “yes” or “no”. You decide whether the law actually comes into force or not.


At a Referendum the citizens are asked about a topic. Here, too, you can vote “yes” or “no” or choose from two alternative solutions. However, the result is not binding on politics.


At a Referendum the initiative comes directly from the people. If at least 100,000 citizens entitled to vote have signed a referendum at the federal level, then the National Council must deal with the issue.

3. What does democracy mean for our daily coexistence?


Democracy lives from the fact that citizens are interested in political events and take part in them. Some of the citizens must be ready to take responsibility and actively shape political life.


We also have the opportunity to actively participate in elections. Elections are also feedback to politicians. As voters, we use our votes to express how satisfied or dissatisfied we are with politics and the conditions in our country.


All Austrian citizens are allowed to vote from the age of 16. All eligible voters are automatically recorded in a special register. This list is available in the respective municipal office or magistrate. Citizens do not have to register as voters.


An election usually takes place in a polling station: for example in a school or in the municipal office. If we want to vote, we have to identify ourselves at the polling station, for example with a passport or a driver's license. Independent electoral authorities monitor the election process.

Since participation in an election is very important, there is a postal vote if it is not possible to visit the polling station.

Anyone who is not in their own municipality on election day can vote at any other polling station with a voting card. There is also the option of voting by post. Postal voting is possible both within Austria and from abroad.


After the election, the number of votes received by the various political parties or candidates is counted. The number of votes decides which parties will be represented in the National Council, in the state parliament or in the municipal council or who will be the next Federal President. In a democracy, election days are always exciting days.