The Centenary of Austria's Constitution

The Austrian Federal Constitutional Law celebrated its centenary in 2020. To this day it is the core of the Austrian Constitution. Even if he wasn't the sole author of the law, Hans Kelsen (1881-1973) is often referred to as its "father". After the collapse of the monarchy in 1918, the lawyer was commissioned by State Chancellor Karl Renner to draft a constitution for the young republic. On October 1, 1920 the Constituent National Assembly approved the Federal Constitutional Law.

Hans Kelsen was one of the most important legal scholars of the 20th century. He dealt with constitutional law, international law and Legal theory. Kelsen held a professorship for state and Administrative law at the University of Vienna and was a member of the Constitutional Court. He left Austria when the National Socialists came to power and taught in Cologne, Geneva and Prague before emigrating to the USA in 1940, where he studied at Harvard Law School and taught at the University of California. He died in California in 1973.

As part of a series for the 100th anniversary of the VÖPh, the 2020 stamp was dedicated to the Austrian Federal Constitutional Act (Bundesverfassungsgesetz), passed in 1920. The special stamp block (the surcharge of 0.50 euro was for the 100th anniversary of the Österreichischer Philatelistenvereine (VÖPh)) shows the first articles of the Federal Constitution behind a portrait of Hans Kelsen. The parliament building in Vienna, in which the Federal Constitutional Law was passed in 1920, as well as the statue in front of Pallas Athena with the goddess of victory Nike standing in her hand, form the distant background.

The current official version, with an English translation, is here (scroll down to reach the words!)

© Andy Taylor. Last updated 12 March 2023