Federal Legislation

Chapter II

Federal Legislation

Part A The House of Representatives

Article 24. Legislative Power

The legislative power of the Federation is exercised by the House of Representatives jointly with the Senate.

Article 25. Seat

   1. The seat of the House of Representatives is Vienna, the federal capital.

   2. For the duration of extraordinary circumstances, the Federal President can at the request of the Federal Government convoke the House of Representatives elsewhere within federal territory.

Article 26. Election

   1. The House of Representatives is elected by the nation in accordance with the principles of proportional representation on the basis of equal, direct, secret, and personal suffrage for men and women who have completed their nineteenth year of life on a day appointed prior to the election. Voting is compulsory in the Federal States where this has been enacted by State law. Detailed provisions about the electoral procedure and compulsory voting, if necessary, will be made by federal law. This federal law shall in particular lay down the reasons held to excuse non-participation in the election notwithstanding compulsory voting.

   2. The federal territory will be divided into self-contained constituencies whose boundaries may not overlap States boundaries. The number of deputies shall be divided among the qualified voters of a constituency in proportion to the number of nationals in the constituencies, i.e., the number of federal nationals who in accordance with the result of the last census had their domicile in the constituencies. A division of the electorate into other electoral bodies is not admissible.

   3. The day of the poll must be a Sunday or other public holiday.

   4. Eligible for election is every qualified voter who has completed his/her twenty first year of life before the day appointed prior to the election.

   5. Exclusion from the right to vote and from eligibility can only ensue from a sentence or order by the courts.

   6. Electoral boards shall be appointed for the implementation and conduct of elections to the House of Representatives, the election of the Federal President, and referenda in accordance with Article 46 as well as for assistance in the scrutiny of initiatives. Their members, with voting rights, shall include representatives from the participant political parties. The main electoral board shall include members who belong or have belonged to the judiciary. The electoral regulations shall lay down, notwithstanding members originating from the professional judiciary, number of members to be allocated to the participant political parties in accordance with their strength as ascertained at the last House of Representatives election.

   7. The electoral register will be drawn up by the Counties as part of their assigned sphere of competence.

Article 27. Term

   1. The legislative period of the House of Representatives lasts four years, calculated from the day of its first meeting but in any case until the day on which the new House of Representatives meets.

   2. The newly elected House of Representatives shall be convened by the Federal President within thirty days after the election. The latter shall be so arranged by the Federal Government as to enable the newly elected House of Representatives to meet on the day after the expiry of the fourth year of the legislative period.

Article 28. Sessions

   1. The Federal President convokes the House of Representatives each year for an ordinary session which shall not begin before 15 Sep and not last longer than 15 July the following year.

   2. The Federal President can also convoke the House of Representatives for extraordinary sessions. If the Federal Government or at least one third of the members of the House of Representatives or if the Senate so demands, the Federal President is bound to convoke the House of Representatives for an extraordinary session to meet within two weeks of the demand; the convocation needs no countersignature. A request by members of the House of Representatives or by the Senate does not require a recommendation by the Federal Government.

   3. The Federal President declares sessions of the House of Representatives closed in pursuance of a vote by the House of Representatives.

   4. Upon the opening of a new House of Representatives session within the same legislative period work will be continued in accordance with the stage reached at the close of the last session. At the end of a session individual committees can be instructed by the House of Representatives to continue their work.

   5. During a session the President of the House of Representatives convokes the individual sittings. If within a session at least a quarter of the House of Representatives' members or the Federal Government so demands, the President is bound to convoke a sitting in such manner that the House of Representatives meets within five days of the demand.

   6. The federal law on the House of Representatives' Standing Orders shall lay down special provisions for its convocation in the event of the elected Presidents being precluded from the performance of their office or being deprived of their functions.

Article 29. Dissolution

   1. The Federal President can dissolve the House of Representatives, but he may avail himself of this prerogative only once for the same reason. In such case the new election shall be so arranged by the Federal Government that the newly elected House of Representatives can at the latest meet on the hundredth day after the dissolution.

   2. Before expiry of a legislative period the House of Representatives can vote its own dissolution by simple law.

  3. After a dissolution pursuant to Paragraph (2) as well as after expiry of the period for which the House of Representatives has been elected, the legislative period lasts until the day on which the newly elected House of Representatives meets.

Article 30. Organization

   1. The House of Representatives elects the President, the Second, and Third Presidents from among its members.

   2. The business of the House of Representatives is conducted in pursuance of a special federal law. The federal law on the House of Representatives' Standing Orders can only be passed in the presence of half the members and by a two thirds majority of the votes cast.

   3. The Parliamentary Staff, which is subordinate to the President of the House of Representatives, is competent for the conduct of Parliamentary auxiliary services and administrative matters within the scope of the federal legislature. The internal organization of the Parliamentary Staff for matters of the Senate shall be settled in agreement with the Chairman of the Senate who is likewise invested with authority to issue instructions as to implementation of the functions assigned to the Senate on the basis of this law.

   4. The nomination of Parliamentary Staff employees and all other competencies in personnel matters lie with the President of the House of Representatives.

   5. The President of the House of Representatives can delegate parliamentary Staff employees to parliamentary parties for help in the fulfillment of parliamentary duties.

   6. The President of the House of Representatives is the highest administrative authority in the execution of the administrative matters for which he is, according to this Article, competent and he exercises these powers in his own right. He may issue ordinances inasmuch as these exclusively concern administrative matters regulated by this Article.

Article 31. Majority

Save as otherwise provided in this law or as otherwise laid down in the federal law on the House of Representatives' Standing Orders with regard to individual matters, the presence of at least one third of the members and an absolute majority of the votes cast is requisite to a vote by the House of Representatives.

Article 32. Publicity

   1. The sessions of the House of Representatives are public.

   2. The public shall be excluded if the chairman or one fifth of the members present so demand and the House of Representatives votes this after the withdrawal of the audience.

Article 33. Publications

No one shall be called to account for publishing true accounts of proceedings in the public sessions of the House of Representatives and its committees.

Part B The Senate

Article 34. Representation

   1. Pursuant, to the following provisions, the States are represented in the Senate in proportion to the number of nationals in each of them.

   2. The State with the largest number of citizens delegates twelve members, every other State as many as the ratio in which its nationals stand to those in the first-mentioned State, with remainders which exceed half the coefficient counting as full. However, every State is entitled to a representation of at least three members. A substitute will be appointed for each member.

   3. The number of members to be delegated by each State accordingly will be re-calculated after every general census by the Federal President.

Article 35. Election

   1. The members of the Senate and their substitutes are elected by the State Parliaments for the duration of their respective legislative periods in accordance with the principle of proportional representation, but at least one seat must fall to the party having the second largest number of seats in a State Parliament or, should several parties have the same number of seats, the second highest number of votes at the last election to the State Parliament. When the claims of several parties are equal, the issue shall be decided by lot.

   2. The members of the Senate need not belong to the State Parliament which delegates them, but they must be eligible for that State Parliament.

   3. After expiry of the legislative period of a State Parliament or after its dissolution, the members delegated by it to the Senate remain in office until such time as the new State Parliament has held the election to the Senate.

   4. The provisions of Articles 34 and 35 can only be amended, apart from the majority of votes requisite in general to the adoption of a resolution there, if in the Senate the majority of the representatives from at least four States has approved the amendment.

Article 36. Chairman, Convocation

   1. The States succeed each other in alphabetical order every six months in the chairmanship of the Senate.

   2. The representative who heads the delegation of the State entitled to the chairmanship acts as Chairman; the appointment of the Deputy Chairmen will be prescribed by the Senate's Standing Orders.

   3. The Senate will be convoked by its Chairman at the seat of the House of Representatives. The Chairman is bound immediately to convoke the Senate if at least one quarter of its members or the Federal Government so demands.

Article 37. Quorum, Majority, Standing Orders, Publicity

   1. Save as provided differently by law, the presence of at least one third of the members and an absolute majority of the votes cast is requisite to a resolution by the Senate.

  2. The Senate furnishes itself with Standing Orders by way of resolution. This resolution can only be adopted in the presence of half the members with a two thirds majority of the votes cast.

   3. The meetings of the Senate are public. The public can, pursuant to the provisions of the Standing Orders, be excluded by resolution. The provisions of Article 33 also apply to public meetings of the Senate and its committees.

Part C The Federal Assembly

Article 38. Functions

The House of Representatives and the Senate meet, together building the Federal Assembly, in public session at the seat of the House of Representatives for the affirmation of the Federal President as well as for the adoption of a resolution on a declaration of war.

Article 39. Chairman

   1. Apart from the cases stated in Articles 60 (6), 63 (2), 64 (4), and 68 (2), the Federal Assembly is convoked by the Federal President. The chairmanship alternates between the President of the House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Senate, beginning with the former.

   2. The House of Representatives' Standing Orders are applied analogously in the Federal Assembly.

   3. The provisions of Article 33 apply for the sessions of the Federal Assembly.

Article 40. Resolutions

   1. The resolutions of the Federal Assembly are authenticated by its Chairman and countersigned by the Federal Chancellor.

   2. The resolutions of the Federal Assembly upon a declaration of war shall be officially published by the Federal Chancellor.

Part D Federal Legislative Procedure

Article 41. Bills

   1. Legislative proposals are submitted to the House of Representatives either as motions by its members or as Federal Government bills. The Senate can propose legislative motions to the House of Representatives by way of the Federal Government.
   2. Every motion proposed by 100,000 voters or by one sixth each of the voters in three States shall be submitted by the main electoral board to the House of Representatives for action. The initiative must be put forward in the form of a draft law.

Article 42. Objection

   1. Every enactment of the House of Representatives shall without delay be conveyed by the President to the Senate.

   2. Save as otherwise provided by constitutional law, an enactment can be authenticated and published only if the Senate has not raised a reasoned objection to this enactment.

   3. This objection must be conveyed to the House of Representatives in writing by the Chairman of the Senate within eight weeks of the enactment's arrival; the Federal Chancellor shall be informed thereof.

   4. If the House of Representatives in the presence of at least half its members once more carries its original resolution, this shall be authenticated and published. If the Senate resolves not to raise any objection or if no reasoned objection is raised within the deadline laid down in Paragraph (3), the enactment shall be authenticated and published.

   5. The Senate can raise no objection to resolutions of the House of Representatives relating to a law on the House of Representatives' Standing Orders, the dissolution of the House of Representatives, the appropriation of the Federal Budget estimates, the sanction of the final Federal Budget, the raising or conversion of federal loans, or the disposal of federal property. These enactments of the House of Representatives shall be authenticated and published without further formalities.

Article 43. Referendum

If the House of Representatives so decides or if the majority of members of the House of Representatives so demands, every enactment of the House of Representatives shall be submitted to a referendum upon conclusion of the procedure pursuant to Article 42 but before its authentication by the Federal President.

Article 44. Constitutional Laws

   1. Constitutional laws or constitutional provisions contained in simple laws can be passed by the House of Representatives only in the presence of at least half the members and by a two thirds majority of the votes cast, they shall be explicitly specified as such.

   2. Any total revision of the Federal Constitution shall upon conclusion of the procedure pursuant to Article 42 but before its authentication by the Federal President be submitted to a referendum by the entire nation, whereas any partial revision requires this only if one third of the members of the House of Representatives or the Senate so demands.

Article 45. Referendum Majority

   1. For a referendum, the absolute majority of the validly cast votes is decisive.

   2. The result of a referendum shall be officially announced.

Article 46.  Initiative and Referendum Law

   1. The procedure for an initiative and a referendum will be prescribed by federal law.

   2. Everyone who is eligible for the House of Representatives has the right to vote.

   3. A referendum takes place at the order of the Federal President.

Article 47. Signatures

   1. The constitutional enactment of federal laws is authenticated by the signature of the Federal President.

   2. The submission for authentication is effected by the Federal Chancellor.

   3. The authentication shall be countersigned by the Federal Chancellor.

Article 48. Publication

Federal laws and the treaties specified in Article 50 will be published with reference to their adoption by the House of Representatives; federal laws based upon a referendum with reference to the result of that referendum.

Article 49. Promulgation

   1. Federal laws and the treaties specified in Article 50 shall be published by the Federal Chancellor in the Federal Law Gazette. Unless explicitly provided otherwise, their entry into force begins with expiry of the day on which the number of the Federal Law Gazette containing their publication is issued and distributed and it extends, unless explicitly provided otherwise, to the entire federal territory; this does not apply to treaties which are to be implemented by the issue of laws (Article 50 (2)).

   2. The House of Representatives can on the occasion of giving its sanction to treaties pursuant to Article 50 resolve that a treaty or individual explicitly specified parts of it shall be published not in the federal law Gazette, but in another appropriate manner. Such a resolution by the House of Representatives has to state the manner of publication, which must guarantee the accessibility of the treaty for the duration of its validity, and shall be notified by the Federal Chancellor in the Federal Law Gazette. Unless explicitly provided otherwise, the entry into force of such treaties begins with expiry of the day on which the number of the Federal Law Gazette containing the notification of the resolution by the House of Representatives is issued and distributed and it extends, unless explicitly provided otherwise, to the entire federal territory.

   3. A special federal law on the Federal Law Gazette will he promulgated.

Article 49(a). Republication

   1. The Federal Chancellor is empowered jointly with the competent Federal Ministers to restate with binding effect federal laws in their valid version by publication in the Federal Law Gazette.

   2. On the occasion of the republication:

  1. obsolete terminological expressions can be rectified and outdated spelling assimilated to the new manner of writing;
  2. references to other regulations which no longer fit in with current legislation as well as other inconsistencies can be rectified;
  3. provisions which have been nullified by later regulations or otherwise rendered void can be declared invalid;
  4. title abridgements and alphabetical abbreviations of titles can be laid down;
  5. the designations of articles, sections, paragraphs, and the like can in case of elimination or insertion be correspondingly altered and in this connection references thereto within the text of the regulation be appropriately rectified; and
  6. interim provisions as well as earlier still applicable versions of the federal law in question can by specification of their purview be recapitulated and simultaneously with the republication be separately issued.
   3. From the day following issue of the republication all courts and administrative authorities are bound by the restated text of the federal law in respect of facts materializing thereafter.

Part E Participation of the House of Representatives and of the Senate in Execution by the Bund

Article 50. Treaties

   1. Political treaties, and others in so far as their contents modify or complement existent laws, may only be concluded with the sanction of the House of Representatives.

   2. At the time of giving its sanction to a treaty which falls under Paragraph (1), the House of Representatives can decide that the treaty in question shall be implemented by the issue of laws.

   3. The provisions of Article 42 (1) to (4) and, should constitutional law be modified or complemented by the treaty, the provisions of Article 44 (1) apply analogously to resolutions of the House of Representatives in accordance with Paragraphs (1) and (2). In a vote of sanction adopted pursuant to Paragraph (1), such treaties or such provisions as are contained in treaties shall be explicitly specified as "constitutionally modifying".

Article 51. Budget

   1. At the latest ten weeks before expiry of the fiscal year the Federal Government shall submit to the House of Representatives an estimate of the revenue and expenditure of the Federation for the ensuing fiscal year. Its contents may not be made public before the beginning of the deliberations in the House of Representatives.

   2. Federal expenditure not earmarked in the Federal Finance Act or by a special law requires before its execution constitutional sanction by the House of Representatives which shall be obtained by the Federal Minister of Finance. Should delay be dangerous, such federal expenditure, in so far as it does not exceed 1,000,000.- Schilling, can be undertaken with the consent of the Main Committee of the House of Representatives; the sanction of the House of Representatives shall subsequently be requested.

   3. If the draft Federal Budget submitted by the Federal Government in due time (Paragraph (1)) to the House of Representatives is not constitutionally sanctioned before expiry of the fiscal year and by that date no temporary provision has been made by federal law, then, during the first two months of the ensuing fiscal year, the taxes, levies, and imposts revenue shall be collected in accordance with the existing regulations and federal expenditure shall be defrayed to the account of the appropriations to be laid down by law, with the exception of expenditure of a kind not specially earmarked in the last Federal Finance Act. The ceiling of the admissible federal expenditure is formed by the expenditure appropriations contained in the draft Federal Budget submitted to the House of Representatives, and one twelfth of these appropriations shall serve as the foundation for each month's expenditure. The expenditure requisite to the fulfillment of legal liabilities shall be defrayed in accordance with maturity. The filling of official appointments likewise ensues on the basis of the draft Federal Finance Act submitted to the House of Representatives. In other respects, the provision of the last Federal Finance Act, in so far as they do not concern figures relating to the administration of public funds remain analogously in force for the above-mentioned two months.

Article 52. Government Interrogation

   1. The House of Representatives and the Senate are entitled to examine the administration of affairs by the Federal Government, to interrogate its members about all subjects of its execution, and to demand all relevant information as well as to ventilate in resolutions their wishes about exercise of the executive power.

   2. Every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate is entitled during the sessions of the House of Representatives and the Senate to address brief oral questions to members of the Federal Government.

   3. The detailed regulations respecting the right of interrogation will be settled by the federal law on the House of Representatives' Standing Orders as well as in the Senate's Standing Orders.

Article 53. Committees of Inquiry

   1. The House of Representatives can, by resolution, set up committees of inquiry.

   2. The detailed regulations respecting the establishment of and the procedure for committees of inquiry will be settled by the federal law on the House of Representatives' Standing Orders.

   3. The courts and all other authorities are obliged to comply with the request of these committees to take evidence; all public departments must on demand produce their files.

Article 54. Tariffs

The House of Representatives participates in laying down railway fares, postal, telegraph, and phone rates, and the prices for monopoly commodities as well as the payment for persons regularly employed in federal establishments. This participation will be prescribed by federal constitutional law.

Article 55. Main Committee

   1. The House of Representatives elects its Main Committee from its members in accordance with the principle of proportional representation; it can be laid down by federal law that certain ordinances by the Federal Government or a Federal Minister need the agreement of the Main Committee and that reports by the Federal Government or a Federal Minister shall be rendered to the Main Committee. Should the need arise, the Main Committee shall be convoked between sessions of the House of Representatives (Article >28).

   2. The Main Committee elects from among its members a Standing Sub-Committee upon which it devolves the powers stipulated by law. The election takes place in accordance with proportional representation notwithstanding inclusion of at least one member of every party belonging to the Main Committee. The Standing Orders must provide that the Standing Sub-Committee can be convoked and can meet at any time. If the House of Representatives in accordance with Article 29 (1) is dissolved by the Federal President, participation in the executive power which in accordance with this law otherwise lies with the House of Representatives devolves to the Standing Sub-Committee.

Part F Status of Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate

Article 56. Independence

The members of the House of Representatives and the members of the Senate are not bound in the exercise of their function by any mandate.

Article 57. Indemnity, Immunity

   1. The members of the House of Representatives may never be made responsible for votes cast in the exercise of their function and only by the House of Representatives on the grounds of oral or written utterances made in the course of their function.

   2. The members of the House of Representatives may, on the ground of a criminal offence -- except for apprehension in flagrante delicto -- be arrested only with the consent of the House of Representatives. Searches of the home of House of Representatives members likewise require the House of Representatives' consent.

   3. Other legal action on the ground of a criminal offence may be taken against members of the House of Representatives without the House of Representatives' consent only if it is manifestly not connected to the political activity of the member in question. The authority concerned must seek a ruling by the House of Representatives on the existence of such a connection if the member in question or a third of the members belonging to the Standing Committee entrusted with these matters so demands. Every act of legal process shall in the case of such a demand immediately cease or be discontinued.

   4. In all these instances the consent of the House of Representatives counts as granted if within eight weeks it has not given a ruling on an appropriate request by the authority competent for the institution of legal action; the President, with a view to the House of Representatives' adoption of a resolution in good time, shall at the latest put such a request to the vote on the day but one before expiry of the deadline. The latter does not include the period when the House of Representatives is not in session.

   5. In case of a member's apprehension in the act of committing a crime, the authority concerned must immediately notify the President of the House of Representatives of the occurrence of the arrest. If the House of Representatives or, when it is not in session, the Standing Committee entrusted with these matters so demands, the arrest must be suspended or the legal process as a whole be dropped.

   6. The immunity of members ends with the day of the meeting of the newly elected House of Representatives, that of functionaries of the House of Representatives whose tenure of office extends beyond this date on the expiry of this term of office.

   7. The detailed provisions are settled by the federal law on the House of Representatives' Standing Orders.

Article 58. Immunity in the Senate

The members of the Senate enjoy for the whole duration of their tenure of office the immunity of the members of the State Parliament which has delegated them.

Article 59. Incompatibility, Public Employment

   1. No one can simultaneously belong to the House of Representatives and the Senate.

   2. Public employees, including members of the Federal Army, require no leave of absence to hold a seat in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. If they seek a seat in the House of Representatives, they shall be granted the requisite free time. The service code will provide details.