European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Limited Constitutional Amendment Powers in Austria?

Keywords total revision, amendment, constitutional principles
Authors Manfred Stelzer
Author's information

344685 Manfred Stelzer
Manfred Stelzer is Professor of Public Law at the University of Vienna.
  • Abstract

      In Austria, constitutional amendments can be attained rather easily. A two-thirds majority in parliament allows for engineering constitutional amendments. The Austrian constitution only knows one exception to its flexibility: the principles of the constitution (‘Verfassungsprinzipien’). When the constitutional principles were to be affected by formal amendment in terms of a ‘total revision’ (‘Gesamtänderung’), a higher threshold needs to be met in order to engineer an amendment. In addition to a two-thirds majority in parliament, a referendum is required. Two questions are of particular interest: First, when does a constitutional amendment amount to a total revision and what are its limits? Second, and even more important, which core principles are recognized by the Austrian constitution and what is their content? These questions may be briefly outlined.

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