The Members of the Federal Council
Responsibilities of Federal Council Members
The rights and duties of the 61 Members of the Federal Council are laid down in the Federal Constitution, in laws such as the Incompatibility Act and in the Rules of Procedure of the Federal Council. The Members of the Federal Council are in particular obliged to take part in the sittings of the Plenary and the committees of which they are members.
The central responsibility of the Members of the Federal Council is to represent the interests of the Federal Provinces in the federal legislative process. However, they can also exercise control over the work of the Government by oral or written questions and address resolutions on political issues to the Federal Government. They also participate in the vast number of international activities of Parliament.
To cope with their manifold tasks the Members of the Federal Council can form parliamentary groups. The minimum number of members required to do so is five, and smaller groups require an affirmative decision of the Federal Council.
Free Mandate and Immunity
The Members of the Federal Council are elected by the Diets of the individual Federal Provinces for the duration of the legislative period of the Diet in question.
They need not be Members of the Provincial Diet that delegates them but must be eligible for it. In the exercise of their function they are not bound by any directives. As in the National Council, the principle of the “free mandate” applies also to them. For this reason the Members of the Federal Council also enjoy, throughout their term of office, the immunity of the Members of the Provincial Diet that has delegated them
The legal position as a Member of the Federal Council begins at the time of his/her election by the respective Provincial Diet and ends with the legislative period of that Provincial Diet, by resignation or loss of seat in consequence of a decision of the Constitutional Court. The Provincial Diet also elects a deputy member for each Member of the Federal Council who will take his/her seat if it falls vacant prematurely on account of resignation, death or for any other reason.
Remuneration of the Members of the Federal Council
The remuneration of Members is laid down in the Federal Remuneration Act of 1997, which introduced a uniform remuneration system and remuneration ceiling for politicians on the federal, provincial and local levels. Remunerations are staggered in accordance with the level of responsibility (Remuneration Pyramid).
Gross monthly salaries of Federal Council members currently amount to EUR 4,080. Unlike Members of the National Council, Members of the Federal Council do not receive an allowance for employing parliamentary assistants.