Lower Austria — Facts & Figures
- Country: Austria (8.86 million residents, 84,000 km²)
- Region: Lower Austria (1.67 million residents, 19,000 km²)
- The State Parliament of Lower Austria (Landtag von Niederösterreich) is the regional Parliament of the federal State of Lower Austria.
- Capital: City of Sankt Pölten, (about 54,000 residents)
- Language: German
- The State Parliament of Lower Austria (Landtag von Niederösterreich) in its modern present form has existed since 1861 (Februarpatent). The historical roots of its predecessors (Landtaiding) go back to the Middle Ages.
- Budget of Lower Austria about 9,2 billion € (2017)
- Districts: 24 administrative districts
- Municipalities: 573
- The Lower Austrian State Parliament consists of 56 members.
- Average Age: 51
- The State Parliament of Lower Austria is a legislative parliament. The members are elected for a 5 year term.
- The legal position of the members of parliament is characterized by their free mandate and immunity.
- Austrian citizen
- Aged 16 or older
- main residence or secondary residence in Lower Austria
- Austrian citizen
- Aged 18 or older
- Active voting conditions must be fulfilled
ÖVP (People’s Party): 29 seats
SPÖ (Social Democratic Party): 13 seats
FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party): 8 seats
Die Grünen (Green Party): 3 seats
NEOS: 3 seats
The Austrian Constitution stipulates legislative competences to the regions. State competences comprise for instance matters of the state constitution, the organisation of authorities of general public administration in the regions, building legislation, regional planning, coordination and administration of events, basic traffic law, hunting law, nature protection, local security police and sports. Furthermore federal jurisdiction comprises budgetary law and the control function over the federal State government and administration. For this purpose the State parliament of Lower Austria is supported by the independent Lower Austria Court of Audit.
The political head of Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) is the Landeshauptmann (governor). He is appointed by the State parliament of Lower Austria (Landtag von Niederösterreich) and represents the federal State of Lower Austria externally. He is also the head of the federal state government and together with it, forms the highest executive body in matters of federal state administration.
The legislative body is the Landtag (state parliament). It is elected for five years by the voters of the federal State of Lower Austria. The political process in Niederösterreich is determined by political parties, which are represented in the State Parliament in proportion to the number of votes they win.
For decades politics in Niederösterreich have been determined by the "Österreichische Volkspartei" (ÖVP) or Austrian People's Party, which is a conservative Christian Democrat party. As the most powerful force, it also provides the governor. This post is filled by Mag. Johanna Mikl-Leitner since 19. April 2017.
The second most powerful group in the State Parliament is the "Sozialdemokratische Partei" (SPÖ) or Social Democratic Party followed by "Die Freiheitlichen" (FPÖ) or Freedom Party, "Die Grünen" (GRÜNE) or Green Party and "NEOS".
Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) is often described as the "region around Vienna" because, from a geographical point of view, Vienna, which is Austria's capital and at the same time a separate federal State, is located in the centre of Niederösterreich — similar to the situation of Berlin and Brandenburg in Germany. Vienna had also been the seat of the regional government of Niederösterreich for a long time; it was not until 1986 that St. Pölten was chosen as its regional capital. In 1997, the state parliament, the regional government, and the regional administration, followed by other important institutions were transferred to St. Pölten.
Niederösterreich has the largest area and the second largest population (after Vienna) of the nine federal States in Austria. Niederösterreich is bordered to the north by the Czech Republic and to the east by Slovakia, where the river system of Thaya and March marks the frontier line. In the south, the foothills of the Eastern Alps form a natural boundary with Steiermark. In the south-east, Niederösterreich borders Burgenland and this is where the region also has a share in the Pannonian Plateau, which then stretches into Hungary which is a scant 4 km away.
The Danube plays a very prominent role in both topographical and historical terms. This river, which was once the northern boundary of the Roman Empire, is the lifeline of the region and divides Niederösterreich into a northern part with the Waldviertel and Weinviertel and a southern part with the Mostviertel and Industrieviertel. The Danube has been of great importance since historical times as a transport artery, and today it forms part of the Rhine-Main-Danube canal, linking the Atlantic to the Black Sea.
Niederösterreich is of crucial importance in the history of Austria, for it is in connection with the Niederösterreich town of Neuhofen/Ybbs that we found the first recorded mention of the name Austria as "Ostarrichi" (Österreich), over one thousand years ago.
However, Niederösterreich is not only the historical heart of Austria with countless cultural points of interest, it is also important from the economic point of view, for this region is generating the bulk of Austria's agricultural products as well as featuring a highly developed industrial sector. In addition, the region has major sources of raw materials as well as extensive leisure facilities, which are ideal venues for tourists.
The name "Niederösterreich" requires an explanation, for it sometimes gives rise to incorrect associations. The prefix "Nieder" ("lower") has nothing to do with being flat or low, in fact it refers to the position of this region with regard to the river Enns, whose lower course forms the boundary between the provinces of Oberösterreich and Niederösterreich. Viewed from Bavaria to the east, this German federal State was very important to the development of modern-day Austria in the early Middle Ages, Niederösterreich lies "below" the Enns. So the name Niederösterreich derives etymologically from this fact: it refers to the land "below" the Enns — as opposed to the region "above" the Enns, which accordingly is known today as Oberösterreich ("Upper Austria").