THE FPÖ IN THE FEDERAL 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.
As a territorial chamber, the Federal Council represents the interests of Austria’s nine provinces in the legislative process and has a right of objection to legislative decisions of the National Council. In principle, the number of Federal Council Members that a given province sends to Vienna is determined by the size of its population. Unlike the National Council, however, the Federal Council is not directly elected. Its members are delegated by the provincial parliaments and the factor determining who is delegated is the relative strength of the parties in the respective provincial parliament. The Federal Council thus has no fixed legislative term, but has instead been in permanent session since 1945. At present, Austria’s Federal Council has 61 members.
Members of the Federal Council can unite to form a parliamentary group
In order to manage their duties and divide tasks between themselves, Federal Councillors have the option of joining together to form parliamentary groups. For a group to be recognised, it requires a minimum of five Federal Councillors, or a resolution of the Federal Council. At present, the FPÖ Federal Council Group comprises 11 members. As is the case for members of the National Council, all members of the FPÖ Federal Council Group benefit from the principle of the free mandate. This means that when undertaking the duties of their office, no Federal Councillor can be bound by an instruction of their parliamentary group.
The FPÖ Federal Council Group is led by a Group Chairperson, a position currently occupied by the Tyrolean Federal Councillor, Christoph Steiner.