Constitutional Background

The Austrian constitution, adopted on October 1st, 1920 (so called federal constitution Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz' B-VG), has six fundamental principles: democratic principle, republican principle, federal principle, rule of law (Legalitätsprinzip'), separation of powers, liberal principle (fundamental and human rights). In addition to the codification of the Austrian constitution there are several other constitutional laws (acts on a constitutional level) and constitutional rules in simple laws. Difficulties with this complex constitutional system resulted in the establishment of the "Austrian Convention", established in 2003, (following the European Convention) to replace the Austrian constitutional system.

Austria is regarding its constitution a parliamentary republic. The parliament consists of the "National Council" (Nationalrat) and "Federal Council" (Bundesrat - federal chamber). The federal system consists of nine federal states (Vienna, Burgenland, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg). The Austrian constitutional court is empowered to a review of parliamentary laws from a constitutional perspective.

History and News

  • 2020: Austria celebrates the 100th anniversary of their Federal Constitution.
  • 2017: Constitutional court allows marriage for all people.
  • January 2014: Nine provincial administrative courts and one federal administrative court begin their work.
  • May 2012: Creation of administrative courts was completed.
  • 2005: Amendment of the constitution regarding schooling and education system
  • 2004: Authentical electronical publication of federal law in the internet.
  • 2 May 2003: Austria-Convent (Österreich-Konvent) starts its work on propositions for constitutional reform.
  • 1995: Austria becomes member of the European Union.
  • 1964: The European Human Rights Convention gets the status of a constitutional law.
  • 1958: Austria becomes member of the European Human Rights Convention.
  • 1955: Treaty of Vienna (full sovereignty), constitutional law on Austrian neutrality.
  • 1945: Declaration of Independence (Unabhängigkeitserklärung / Proklamation über die Selbständigkeit Österreich): enforcement of the federeal constitutional law (Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz) as amended in 1929.
  • 1938: "Anschluss".
  • 1933: Parliamentary Crisis: Begin of Austrian Fascism.
  • 1929: Federal constitutional amendment 1929: enhancement of the Federal President, direct vote of the President by the population.
  • 1925: Federal constitutional amendment
  • 1925 Separation of Powers between the Federation and the Federal States.
  • 1920: Federal constitutional law (Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz)
  • 1918: St. Germain Treaty (Staatsvertrag von St. Germain) -- Definition of Austrian borders, regulations about minority safety and religious freedom.
  • 1918: End of Austrian Monarchy: Proclamation of the Republic.
  • 1867: December constitution (Dezemberverfassung): First Charta of fundamental Rights (Staatsgrundgesetz über die Allgemeinen Rechte der Staatsbürger / State Basic Law  about the general rights of citizens).
  • 1862: First fundamental rights: Law on Personal Freedom (1862); Law on the Right of the Home (1862).
  • 1848: First constitutional attempts (Pillersdorfsche Verfassung, Kremsierer Entwurf).

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - 7.4.2022 / For corrections please contact K. Lachmayer or A. Tschentscher.