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The Politics of Austria take place in a framework of a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic, with a Federal Chancellor as the head of government, and a Federal President as head of state. Executive power is exercised by the governments, both local and federal. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the National Council and the Federal Council. Since 1949 the political landscape has been largely dominated by the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ). The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, and exclusively federal in nature: there are no state courts. The ethnically and culturally heterogeneous nation state of Austria is the remnant of Austria-Hungary, a vast multinational empire that ceased to exist in 1918. The Austrian Republic was preceded by a constitutional monarchy, whose legislative body was elected by, as the New York Times put it, "quasi-universal (male) suffrage" for the first time in 1897. Austria's first attempt at republican governance, after the fall of the monarchy, was severely hampered by the crippling economic costs of war reparations required by the victorious Allies. Austria's First Republic (1918–1938) made some pioneering reforms in the 1920s, particularly in Vienna, that became the foundations for the social welfare states of post WWII Europe. However it gradually degenerated into a fascist dictatorship between 1933-1934 under Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, who was assassinated by Nazis in 1934. The First Republic ended with German invasion and annexation in 1938. Following the defeat of Germany in 1945 Austria resumed its republican government. The beginning of the 21st century marked, for Austria, a half-century of a stable government under a constitutional federal republican system. It is governed according to the principles of representative democracy and the rule of law. The constitutional framework of the politics of Austria and the marrow of the constitution's practical implementation are widely agreed to be robust and adequately conducive to peaceful change.


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