The Presidents and the President's Conference
The Presidents of the National Council
At the beginning of a legislative period the National Council elects from its midst the President and the Second and Third Presidents. In political practice the three strongest parties in the National Council make proposals for the election of the Presidents, which are normally accepted by the plenary. In theory, however, every Member could be elected President.
As a body, the three Presidents represent the Federal President if s/he is prevented from exercising his/her duties for a prolonged period of time, in the case of his/her death or if s/he is deposed. Thus, at least formally, it is the Presidents of the National Council, not the Federal Chancellor, that hold the second highest rank in the State.
Responsibilities of the President
The President conducts the business of the National Council and prepares, in cooperation with the Second and Third Presidents, the budget proposal for the National Council. S/he represents the National Council vis-à-vis third parties, convenes sittings and chairs them, in actual practice in rotation with the other two Presidents.
S/he implements the Rules of Procedure and enforces compliance with them, has authority over the Parliament Buildings and in matters relating to the management of the staff of the Parliamentary Administration. The President of the National Council takes turns with the President of the Federal Council in chairing the sittings of the Federal Assembly.
The President's Conference of the National Council
The President’s Conference is formed by the Presidents of the National Council and the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups. As a deliberative organ it prepares proposals for the programme of work, the agendas and times of National Council sittings and coordinates committee sittings. It plays a central role in parliamentary work as a mediator, particularly in conflicts concerning the interpretation and application of the Rules of Procedure.