The Rules of Procedure of the National Council (§7 GOG-NR) grant elected Members who belong to one and the same campaigning party the right to form parliamentary groups.
Founding a Parliamentary Group
The minimum number of Members required to form a parliamentary group is five. In theory it is also possible for Members from different campaigning parties to form a parliamentary group, but only with the approval of a majority of the National Council. The President of the National Council has to be informed without delay whenever a parliamentary group is formed and whenever any changes occur in its composition.
Up to the end of the 24th legislative period (29 October 2013) new parliamentary groups could be formed at any time, which actually occurred twice: in the case of the Liberal Forum in 1993 and of the Team Stronach in 2012. On account of an amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the National Council new parliamentary groups can now only be formed at the beginning of a new legislative period. To be exact, Members may do so during a period of one month from the first sitting of the newly elected National Council. Members of one and the same contending party can only form one single group. Should members of one and the same contending party actually form several groups, only the one with the largest number of members can be recognised as a parliamentary group.
Leaving, Joining and Dissolving a Parliamentary Group
Members may at any time leave a parliamentary group and join another one. Once a parliamentary group has fewer than five members it automatically ceases to exist. The President of the National Council has to be informed without delay whenever a parliamentary group is formed and whenever any changes occur in its composition. The group is immediately endowed with a legal personality, enjoys special parliamentary rights and is eligible for financial support.
Parliamentary Groups in the Federal Council
The parliamentary groups (“Fraktionen“) formed in the Federal Council by the Members belonging to one and the same campaigning party differ in one respect from those of the National Council: While strictly speaking the minimum number required to form a parliamentary group is five, as it is in the National Council, the Federal Council may nevertheless give its assent to the formation of a group with fewer members.
Parliamentary Rights, Financial Support, Assignment of Duties
The formation of parliamentary groups entails a number of parliamentary rights. To enable them to perform their tasks, the groups receive funds from the general budget. In order for the groups to be able to deal adequately with the multiplicity of political subjects and tasks, different group members are assigned specific duties. More