Governmental and Political Structure of Austria

The Republic of Australia is a landlocked nation with a population of
about 8.47 million people. Its geographical location is central Europe.
It borders the Germany and Czech Republic to the North, Italy and
Slovenia to the South, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to the West, and
Slovakia and Hungary to the east. The nation is a federal republic. In
addition, the nation has alpine and temperate climate, and territory
area of 83, 855 km2. Since a section of the Alp ranges cover the
nation, its terrain is generally mountainous. The official language in
Austria is German, although many people speak the local Bavarian
language. Other official languages used in the country include Slovene,
Hungarian, and Burgenland Croatian. The current Austria state originated
from the Holy Roman Empire. This research is an evaluation of government
and political structure of Austria.
Austrian government
Austria is a federal republic. Presently, it is a semi-presidential and
parliamentary representative democracy. It has nine federal states.
Vienna is the capital city of the country. It is also the biggest city
in the country with a total population that is slightly above 1.7
million. The head of the government is a federal chancellor, while the
head of state is a Federal President. Both federal and local governments
do exercise executive power. Both the two chambers of parliament and
the government, the Federal Council and the National Council can
exercise federal legislative power. From 1949, Social Democratic Party
of Austria (SPÖ) dominates the center-left while Austrian People`s
Party (ÖVP) has ruled the political landscape. The country`s judiciary
system is federal in nature, but it is autonomous from the legislature
and executive arms of the government (Advameg Inc 1). The nation has no
state courts.
Austrian government structure
The Austrian parliamentary representative government consists of
high-ranking officials from the executive faction. They include the
Vice-Chancellor, Chancellor, and federal ministers of the Austrian
Cabinet. These members and the President make the supreme federal
authority of the government. The roots of the modern democratic system
originated from implementation of the constitution in 1920 that was
later reviewed in 1929 (Marcelo 8). The constitution, that has been
amended numerous times thereafter, linked the transition of
Austro-Hungarian Empire and a democratic federal republic where citizens
influence regulations and policies passed in the country. The Austrian
federal President appoints members of the federal government. However,
the president should seek advice from National Council parliament
because it can dismiss elected members with a vote of no confidence. The
Federal Chancellor is often a leader of the most influential political
party, often with a history of having contested for “chancellor
candidacy” in the parliamentary elections. The Chancellor conducts
nominations of ministers, but the president has to approve the proposed
individuals. In case the president rejects the recommended candidates,
the chancellor has to look for new individuals (Marcelo 14). On the same
note, the President has the capacity to fire the entire Austrian cabinet
and the Chancellor, at will, respectively. Chancellors are responsible
for presiding over cabinet meetings.
Countries with similar political system to the Austria
Austria has a democratic federal political system. In this political
structure, autonomous states join up to create a country. Examples of
other countries that are using this political structure presently
include France, Modern Russia, India, Brazil, Switzerland, South Africa,
Ireland, and Pakistan. Nonetheless, the political systems of these
countries may vary slightly to that of Austria. The European Union is
the most suitable example. Among the features that make political
structures of these countries similar to that of Austria include the
fact that the majority rules. In addition, the governments have control
over citizens, but administration is based on constitutional policies.
In these states, they contain a couple of governments, including the
central and provincial (Austrian Migration Department 2). Both the
provincial and central governments are independent of each other at
state level. Both of these governments are constitutionally equal
hence, each of them can create laws and pass laws. Constitutions of
these countries disseminate some administrative power to the central
government, and others to the provincial government. Devolution of
provincial administration slightly varies from one feudal state to the
other. However, central governments administer issues that are of common
interest to all feudal states (Austrian Press and Information Service
2). For instance, currency and coinage, foreign affairs and defense
policies are all under regulation of the central government (Austrian
Migration Department 5). On the same note, these countries have supreme
courts that help to interpret and solve major disputes between
provincial and central governments. Similarly, constitutions of these
nations exhibit supremacy since the central and provincial governments
are supposed to act within limited powers provided by in the
constitution. This implies that there is no single person such as the
president of the chancellor with absolute political power.
Austria political culture
Unlike simple other small countries that have simple political cultures,
Austria has an amazingly intricate political traditions that it has
adopted over time. The complex political and identity culture of the
nation influences the agenda of Austrian foreign policies and its
results. The country applies the concept of neutrality in its foreign
policies. In its domestic politics, the country wants to establish
itself as an autonomous state (Lagro, 5). In order to achieve this goal,
the country refrains from German influence on its foreign policies
through refusing to become a member of the EEC. Besides, the country
has developed a culture of recognizing formation approach, that has
helped to create a foundation from occupation freedom (Lagro, 7). In
addition, the neutral position of the country makes it a suitable
mediator between the East and West. In collaboration with other neutral
states, Austria has played an essential role in the EU expansion because
it negotiates membership eligibility for other nations. The Kulturnation
culture helps in defining the formation of the nation’s political
process. It helps in depicting Australia as a small nation, but with a
vast culture. During the cold war, this political culture helped the
country to retain its neutrality state of an independent nation (Lagro,
9).
Major Political Parties and their philosophies
Ereminaitė 4).
Key parties and leaders in power
Ereminaitė 12).
Recent Austria election
Austria conducts elections after every six-year term. The most recent
elections in Austria were held on September 29, 2013. The Grand
Coalition party composed of the two largest parties in the country
including Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and Austrian People’s Party
(ÖVP) emerged victorious in this election. The re-election of the party
was fair since even preliminary results had shown that the coalitionhad
chance of recapturing another seven-year term. The he conservative
People`s Party (OeVP) scored 23.8% while the Social Democrats (SPOe)
acquired 27.1% (Parekh 7). In case these parties renewed their
coalition, they had adequate members to help them gain majority
advantage. Although Austria has a history of political stability and
election fairness, the major political parties in the previous election
had challenging time recapturing their positions because their leaders
were involved in major scandals that were well known to the public.
These corruption scandals instigated election inertia since many
citizens were not willing to support reelection of these leaders because
of their dishonesty (Parekh 9). Throughout the campaign period, court
cases for high ranking and powerful party leaders had pending cases in
courts. On the same note, the government had failed to pass several
critical bills, thereby resulting in inertia in some policy sections
such as the health system, pensions, and higher education among others.
Since both ÖVP and SPÖ had neither local nor regional elections from
2010 to 2013, they had suitable time time to create these regulations in
order to gain confidence of voters. However, they failed to utilize this
opportunity thereby, they lost 10% of their voters (Parekh 12).
Another key challenge in the previous elections was entrance of a new
competitor, Team Stronach. Frank Stronach, the Austrian-Canadian
billionaire, established this party. When Stronach announced that he
would contest, the FPÖ’s electoral predictions dropped by 10%. In
addition, the party dropped its ambition of nominating a Chancellor.
Historical political challenges in Austria
Ereminaitė 6). Some of the weaker parties are led by influential
people with big visions for the country, but loyalty of voters prevents
them from rising to the top of transforming the nation.
On the same note, the government is reluctant towards changing
contentious political policies that can harm the capability of the
country’s trade. Austria depends heavily on import-export business
that can be negatively affected in case tax rules and other policies
governing trade in the nation are twisted (Austrian Migration Department
11). Failure of modifying these policies provides loopholes to
unscrupulous traders to escape paying the appropriate tax dues to the
government.
Corruption cases in Austria by the high-ranking political officials are
common since the establishment of the nation. For instance, recent
corruption scandals involving key political figures in the present
administration is one of the scandals that have made the nation to lose
significant revenue in individual people’s pocket. Unfortunately,
loyalists to these political parties vote them back to the leadership in
spite of evident corruption cases. Similarly, politicians user their
influence to manipulate cases linking them to corruption case, thereby
they evade justice (Austrian Migration Department 21).
Current political issues
Subcultures: Just like in the past, Austria faces subculture problem.
These subcultures offer different political parties a platform for
pursuing their own interest. In normal cases, voting should be based on
ideologies of the political leaders. Nonetheless, many people vote on
political parties depending on their loyalty. This explains the reason
why only two major political parties have dominated the Austrian
government since post- Second World War. There are other strong
political parties led by visionary people who can help to transform the
country’s leadership, economy, and development rate. Unfortunately,
these parties lack the desired support to help them rise to the top
(Marcelo 4).
Corruption is still a major issue in Austria. The country has
deficiency of transparent leaders. In addition, these leaders are
reluctant to pass strict policies that can control economy fraud. This
is because the rich and powerful people are in charge of leadership
hence, they cannot create policies that will affect them negatively
(Marcelo 7).
Finally, the neutral policy of the country prevents it from taking
advantage of crucial deals such as tax adjustment. The country’s
economy mainly depends on trade, which could be affected negatively by
unfavorable trade policies. A review of trade policies is required in
order to provide local traders with an attractive market with fair
competition from foreign traders (Marcelo 9).
Significant Austria public policies
Among the key public policies that have significant impact on the
development of Austria include multiculturalism. The different tribes
in the country have resulted in the creation of distinct social groups
that have a negative social impact on the government. However, the
government addresses multiculturalism through ensuring the country is
used German as its official language. This helps in ensuring that
everyone in the country can associate with people from other cultural
backgrounds.
In addition, Austria is among the few countries with policies that are
friendly to multiculturalism. Citizens have natural hospitality hence,
it attracts several foreign traders to invest in the country. These
policies, coupled with long term political stability has enabled the
country’s economy to develop at a significant rate. In 2013, the
nation was ranked at position 21 among the richest countries in the
world, thanks to hospitable and well-educated population (Parekh 5).
Foreign investors venturing into the country to take advantage of
abundant skilled labor.
What does this country do well?
Austria does best in maintaining peace and stability in the European
region. Its political neutrality places it at a good vantage to act as
an intermediary between the West and East. Since the formation of the
EU, the country has played an essential role in recruiting new members
(Lagro, 6).
In addition, the country has managed to main its autonomy. Although
Austria is a small country, it has strong policies that are not
influenced by influential neighboring countries such as Germany and
France. The nation has achieved this goal through rejecting EEC
membership and refraining from adopting policies used in Germany. Since
the country was originally part of the German territory, one would
expect its policies to be significantly influenced by the country.
However, since it acquired autonomy in 1920s, the country passed a
constitution that guides its development policies independently (Lagro,
13).
How could this country improve?
Austria can improve through creating policies that will discourage
socialism. This has been a major problem to the economic development of
the country because people vote for parties depending on their sense of
affiliation, instead of the ideologies presented by leaders. An
improvement of this policy will help the leaders of unpopular parties
with a big vision for the country to help in speeding development of the
country (Pelinka 8) .
Moreover, the country needs to create better policies that can help to
control corruption in government. Key government officials and
political leaders, both in opposition and governing political parties,
had pending corruption cases during the campaign season. New regulations
are required in order to prevent recurrence of such an issue in the
future.
Recommendations for improving status of Austria
In order to curb major issues affecting Austria, the country should
create policies that would bar suspected corrupt leaders from vying for
office until the court has cleared his or her name (Advameg Inc 1). In
addition, convicted corrupt officials should be stripped of their
political leadership responsibility, and forced to return embezzled
funds.
Since the country is composed of a wide range of people from diverse
backgrounds, the United Nations should create a special program to help
in educating citizens towards responsible civil obligations. For
example, the UN should train the citizens the significant importance of
casting votes depending on the ideologies of leaders instead of
political party affiliations. This will help citizens to vote for
unpopular leaders with a great development vision for the country, and
no history of ever engaging in corrupt activities.
Works cited
LaGro, Esra, “EU Enlargement and Transforming Paradigms of Political
Identity in Individual Member States: the Case of Austria,” CIRP –
International Research and Policy Platform. Instabul: 2006. Print.
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Austrian Migration Department. The political, administrative and legal
systems. Embassy of Austria. 2013. Web. 2 October, 2013.
Austrian Press and Information Service. The Political System. Embassy of
Austria. 2013. Web. 10 October, 2013.
Junevičius and Simona, Ereminaitė. Comparative Analysis of Austria‘s
and Lithuania’s Self-Government System, Public Policy and
Administration, 2012(11): 3.
 36–42.
Pelinka, Anton, and Wodak, Ruth. The Haider Phenomenon in Austria. New
Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002. Print.
Parekh, Lord, “ Rethinking Multiculturalism,” Palgrave Macmillan,
Basingstoke (UK). 2006. Print
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