During the past 10 centuries, the term Austria has designated a variety of geographic and political concepts. In its narrowest sense Austria has included only the present-day provinces of Upper and Lower Austria, including Vienna; in its widest meaning the term has covered the far-flung domains of the imperial house of Hapsburg. Its present connotation—German-speaking Austria—dates only from 1918. This article deals mainly with the history of German-speaking Austria.
Austria is governed under the revised 1929 constitution. It has a mixed presidential-parliamentary form of government. The president, elected by popular vote for a six-year term, nominates the prime minister. The cabinet, headed by the prime minister, is responsible to the lower house ( Nationalrat ) of parliament, which is popularly elected according to proportional representation. The upper house ( Bundesrat ) is chosen by the provincial assemblies. The three main parties are the Social Democratic party, the conservative People's party, and the neopopulist far-right Freedom party.