The National Council

The National Council has 183 Members elected for a legislative period of five years. Jointly with the Federal Council it represents the legislative power at federal level.

The Responsibilities of the National Council

The National Council is responsible for proposing, deliberating and passing laws. As an institution directly elected by the people it also has important control functions: by addressing specific questions to the Federal Government it exercises control over it and may even deny the Government, or individual members of it, its confidence and in this way force them to step down. More

The Members of the National Council

The principal functions of the 183 Members of the National Council are the introduction, preliminary deliberation and adoption of laws and the control of the Federal Government. However, Members also see it as their duty to keep in touch with the public in their constituencies and to take an active part in Parliament’s international activities. A basic principle governing Parliament is what is called the “free mandate“ – which means that Members of the National Council are not bound by any directives in the exercise of their duties. More

The Presidents and the President’s Conference

At the beginning of a legislative period the Members of the National Council elect from among them their President as well as the Second and Third Presidents. The President directs the business of the National Council, represents it vis-à-vis the outside world, convenes its sittings and chairs them, in practice in rotation with the Second and Third Presidents. The Presidents of the National Council and the chairpersons of the Parliamentary Groups form the President’s Conference. More

Items of Business of the National Council

The National Council Rules of Procedure Act enumerates the various items of business that the National Council has to transact – from bills, state treaties and government reports to petitions, citizens’ initiatives and EU matters. More

Plenary Sittings of the National Council

The National Council holds plenary sittings on two or three days each month. The reports and recommendations of the competent committees form the basis for decisions taken in the plenary. Debates on Matters of Topical Interest and Urgent Questions provide an opportunity to discuss subjects of general interest on the floor of the House. A special debate on “European matters of topical interest“ is held four times a year. More

National Council Committees

At the beginning of each legislative period committees are set up to deal with special subject matters. The composition of committees in terms of parliamentary group membership reflects the distribution of seats in the plenary. The committees are primarily entrusted with the preliminary deliberation on items of business. Their reports and recommendations form an important basis for deliberations “on the floor of the House” (the plenary). More