In the years following the end of the Second World War, individual politicians demanded the introduction of an ombudsman in Austria. The AOB, however, was only set up in the 1970s. The creation of the AOB was preceded by a long-standing debate. Politicians repeatedly asked for an ombudsman to be appointed shortly after the end of the Second World War. The role models here were usually Scandinavian countries. A firm decision was announced on the new supervisory body for the first time in 1970 in the government statement by the Federal Chancellor Dr. Kreisky.
The draft for an amendment to the Federal Constitution at the start of 1971 stipulated the creation of a new “federal administration attorneyship”. The interest from the public was so great that the Austrian State Printing Office distributed more than 13,000 copies to interested citizens free of charge. The draft triggered an intensive debate. The subsequent government bill already used the term Volksanwaltschaft (Ombudsman Board), but it never became law. The political parties were unable to agree on the number of members for the Ombudsman Board.
The government made a new attempt in 1975 and at the beginning of 1977 all of the Members of the Austrian Parliament agreed on the new Federal Law relating to the Ombudsman Board. The first three ombudsmen were Robert Weisz, Frank Bauer and Gustav Zeillinger. They assumed their functions on 1 July 1977. It is remarkable that a regulation in the final provisions of this law stated that the law should cease to be in force on 30 June 1983. This meant that only a makeshift solution had been created. It was unclear whether the institution would be able to meet the requirements in place and whether it would prove to be important for citizens. It was assumed that the Ombudsman Board would handle around 1,500 complaints each year.
The AOB, however, soon gained increasing respect and trust. Four years after it had been founded, the institution had passed the acid test: in July 1981, the provisions on the AOB were included in the Austrian Federal Constitution.
The work performed by the AOB has helped it to gain trust and acceptance from the population in the last few decades. This is also evident in the most recent extension of its competences. The AOB received an explicit constitutional mandate for protecting and promoting human rights in July 2012 and is now part of an international control system for compliance with human rights.
The current ombudswoman and her male colleagues have a total of 16 predecessors who were in office since 1977. All of the them were previously Members of Parliament or worked in another political function.
Members of the Ombudsman Board
Term of office
01.07.1977 - 01.03.1988
01.07.1977 - 30.06.1983
01.07.1977 - 30.06.1983
01.07.1983 - 30.06.1989
01.07.1983 - 30.06.1989
23.03.1988 - 30.06.1995
01.07.1989 - 31.12.1998
01.07.1989 - 30.06.2001
01.07.1995 - 26.04.2001
01.01.1999 - 30.06.2001
01.07.2001 - 30.06.2007
01.07.2001 - 29.10.2006
29.11.2006 - 30.06.2007
01.07.2007 - 30.06.2008
01.07.2001 - 30.06.2013
01.07.2007 - 30.06.2013
The AOB has had its headquarters in Palais Rottal since 1983. Palais Rottal is located in the centre of Vienna near Stephansplatz and can look back on a diverse and interesting history.
Palais Rottal is situated in the centre of Vienna at the intersection between Singerstraße and Grünangergasse and can look back on a diverse and interesting history. The current design of the palace can for the most part be traced back to the middle of the 18th century, when three houses were combined in one architectural concept. Two of these buildings face Singerstraße: they are Palais Rottal itself and what is known as the Billiotte Foundation building. The original division of the building into two parts is clearly recognisable in the elongated facade to this very day.
The facade of the Foundation building, which was constructed before 1733 by Anton Ospel (1677-1756) has a particularly remarkable style. The influences of Roman baroque and Spanish architecture are clearly evident in the artist’s work. Palais Rottal itself was presumably originally built between 1667 and 1683 by the architect Giovanni Pietro Tencalla by reconstructing a previous building.
The palace was then restructured in the middle of the 18th century by Franz Anton Pilgram (1699-1761), a pupil of Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. This resulted in the elaborate facade being built along with the grand staircase and the large central inner courtyard. It gives the visitors the impression that they are in a large ballroom. Palais Rottal therefore became an important baroque architectural highlight in the Vienna cityscape.
In the 1850s, the newly formed Imperial and Royal Ministry of Education and Culture was located in Palais Rottal. Later on the building was used by parts of the fiscal administration. During the Second World War, Palais Rottal was the home of the national debt cash desk and the tax office for the 1st district. After the Second World War, the central authority for remuneration was located in the building. The Financial Procurator’s Office has used the building since 1981 and the AOB has had its headquarters at Palais Rottal since 1983.