The FPÖ in the National Council
The Austrian Parliament is made up of two chambers: the National Council (Nationalrat) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat), the parliamentary representation of the federal provinces. They are co-responsible for the legislation of the Federation. As an electoral party, the FPÖ is represented in the Vienna-based Parliament by the FPÖ Parliamentary Party, which in line with Austria’s bicameral system is made up of a National Council Group and a Federal Council Group.
The central task of the National Council is the introduction, preliminary discussion and passing of laws, as well as the scrutiny and control of Austria’s Federal Government. At present, a total of 183 National Council Members are elected for a five-year term at Austria’s general election and the FPÖ currently holds 30 of those seats. The FPÖ National Council Group is led by a Parliamentary Party Chairman.
The FPÖ’s parliamentary party status derives from its ability to meet the legal requirement that at least five Members of Parliament unite for the purpose of performing their parliamentary duties. This parliamentary party status is also a prerequisite for certain parliamentary rights, such as the tabling of urgent parliamentary questions.
One of the core principles of the FPÖ Parliamentary Party is the free mandate. This means that, when undertaking their duties, Members of Parliament are not bound by any instructions of the leadership of their parliamentary party. Furthermore, responsibilities for individual policy areas are divided up between the Members of Parliament and, in the case of the FPÖ, they are assigned to spokespersons for the relevant policy area. Prominent examples of such policy areas are labour and social affairs; budget; family; economy, and national defence. FPÖ spokespersons and other Members of Parliament are also members of parliamentary committees, which are in general where in-depth discussions on current legislative matters take place.
Since the commencement in October 2019 of the new National Council legislative term, this role is held by Herbert Kickl (pictured).