Each of the nine provinces has its own constitution, which
prescribes its governmental organization. Common to each province
is an elected Landtag (provincial legislature), which is
popularly elected on the basis of proportional representation.
According to the federal constitution, the number of deputies can
range from thirty-six to sixty-five, depending on the population
of the province. Vienna, which is simultaneously a province and a
city, is in a special category--its legislature has 100 deputies.
A Landtag is subject to dissolution by the federal president at
the cabinet's request. This process requires the consent of the
Bundesrat. One-half of the Bundesrat's deputies must be present
and cast a two-thirds vote in favor of the action.
The Landtag elects an executive composed of a governor and
councilors. A deputy is elected to serve in the absence of the
governor. Candidates for these positions must meet eligibility
requirements of the Landtag, although they need not belong to it.
Elections to the Landtag occur every five years, except in Upper
Austria, where they are held every six years. Legislative periods
can be shortened and elections held if the Landtag votes to
Provincial constitutions can be amended, provided that
changes do not conflict with the federal constitution. Passage of
a constitutional amendment requires the presence of at least onehalf of the Landtag's members and a two-thirds majority vote.
Regulations for passage of other provincial laws vary, but
generally the procedure requires a vote by the Landtag,
verification that the proper procedure has been followed, the
countersignature of the prescribed official, and publication in
the provincial law gazette. Before a law is published, the
federal minister whose jurisdiction covers the area of the
proposed law has to be informed of the province's action. The
cabinet then has eight weeks to notify the province if the bill
interferes with federal interests. The Landtag can override the
federal government's objections by voting again in favor of the
bill with at least one-half of its members present. The federal
government would probably appeal to the Constitutional Court if
it strenuously objected to a provincial law.
The provinces have a restricted ability to raise taxes. They
may not tax items already subject to federal taxation. Every four
to six years, the federal government, the provinces, and the
municipalities negotiate a Finance Equalization Law that
determines how tax revenues raised at the federal and provincial
levels are to be divided. This system ensures that the provinces
are fully compensated for the many federal programs that they
Article 15 (1) of the federal constitution states that
matters not expressly reserved to the federal government come
under the jurisdiction of the provinces. Matters in which the
provinces have primary jurisdiction include local police, primary
education, housing, health, and protection of the environment. If
a provincial government believes that some federal action is
infringing on its jurisdiction, it can appeal to the
Constitutional Court for a ruling.
Provisions exist for interprovincial coordination of policies
by means of compacts and treaties. Such coordination, however, is
feasible only if the matters at hand are among the autonomous
rights of the provinces. This manner of cooperation has rarely
occurred. Instead, conferences of provincial officials are held
to plan less formal methods of cooperation. The federal
government must be notified of interprovincial action.
Data as of December 1993