Austria’s News in English: June 3 – 9
Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity’s Austrian News in English feature! Here we’ll provide you with snippets of the most important Austrian news of the last couple of weeks so you can stay up to date.
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1. An investigation against four policemen
After the dismantling of a demonstration by climate activists last Friday, there has been an increased circulation of cellphone videos showing disturbing images. They documented instances of police brutality against demonstrators. The Public Prosecution Office of Vienna has started to investigate the case. Earlier this week, the office reported that they had singled out four policemen in their inquiry.
The Public Prosecution Office spokeswoman Nina Bussek stated that there is an apprehension of personal injury and severe personal injury by abusing a legislative position as well as the endangerment of physical safety. Three of the four suspects have been identified by name, the fourth one is still being investigated.
The four cases are the following: One, a climate activist apparently suffered a laceration by the policemen arresting him. Second, an activist was already fixated on the ground with the policeman, nonetheless punching him nine times into the upper body. A third account involves a broken hand of an activist, and the fourth is one German activist whose head was placed under a police vehicle. The video shows the vehicle accelerating while the head was still placed close to the tire. Seconds later the car stops as the policemen push the man’s head up, then they start over again.
Vienna’s police president Gerhard Pürstl stated that this scene was indeed dangerous, but he assumed that the involved officials were not acting intentionally. The incident created a stir in Vienna. After a demonstration on Thursday against police violence, the parliament party Liste JETZT has handed a parliamentary question to Minister of Interior Wolfgang Perschon, asking for more details about the police operation.
Source: Die Presse
2. No more debate over SPÖ chairwoman position
After a mediocre result during the EU parliament elections, rumors started circulating that SPÖ chairwoman Pamela Rendi-Wagner would have to resign. This assumption has been dispersed by various members of the party. The General Secretary of the SPÖ, Thomas Drozda, even wrote an email to all party officials to put an end to those rumors, calling them “unfounded speculation”. He suggested that these stem from the political competitor, trying to weaken the SPÖ.
The demands, however, were originally voiced by the older generation of Social Democrats, even naming Media Manager Gerhard Zeiler as a possible candidate. Even after Zeiler diffused the talks of him taking over the party, there are still party members like former ORF director Thaddäus Podgorski, who keep championing Zeiler. Earlier this week, Rendi-Wagner herself cut off any talks about her replacement, stating that the people have other worries than who should be head of the SPÖ. The party officials have also nominated the chairwoman as the lead candidate for the September parliament election.
Source: Der Standard
3. Minister of Interior will continue to Deport Apprentices
The new Minister of Interior will not change the asylum policy of the old government. A stop to the deportations of refugee apprentices, as demanded by the NEOS and the Green Party, will not happen. The Minister argues that asylum is a special right granted by the Geneva Refugee Convention to people who are endangered in their home country and the rules could not be overridden by an apprenticeship or any other sort of employment. The Higher Administrative Court had ruled in February 2019, that the interest of the national job market in employees is not covered by Art. 8 of the European Human Rights Convention.
The ministry further presented numbers that stated that in April 2019 over 33,000 asylum seekers, who have been granted legal status, were registered as unemployed. The ministry encourages the job market to rather focus its efforts on this group of people.
Source: Der Standard
4. Smoking in bars to possibly be banned in Autumn
After several days of back and forth, the speaker of the ÖVP parliamentary group, August Wöginger, has declared the party’s stand on reintroducing a smoking ban law. The party is now waiting for the verdict of the Constitutional Court, who has been dealing with a legal complaint concerning Austria’s smoking laws for several months. If the Court deems the current law – stating that smoking in bars is allowed under certain circumstances – to be unconstitutional, there will be no need for action, as the law will change automatically. The Constitutional Court will deal with the issue at some point during June, announcing the result in the following weeks. Should the Court deem the law the constitutional, then the ÖVP would vote in favor of abolishing it, says Wöginger.
The necessary proposal has been filed in the parliament already, one by the NEOS and one by Liste JETZT. The SPÖ, who is in favor of a motion, hasn’t filled theirs yet. Whose motion will be further dealt with is not clear at this point. The date of becoming effective is also not determined yet. The SPÖ would favor September. The former coalition partner FPÖ, who supposedly made the cancellation of the smoking ban a condition for the coalition, is criticizing the change of heart within the ÖVP. Speaker Herbert Kickl calls the party out on making itself “left-wing compatible.”
Source: Der Standard
5. The last Life Ball will take place on Saturday
(c) Life Ball
The last Life Ball to ever be hosted will go out with a bang. Famous guests to send the event off are Burlesque dancer Dita von Teese, singer Aura Dione, producer Mousse T. as well as Hollywood star Katie Holmes. The motto this year is “United in Diversity”.
For those who couldn’t afford a ticket, the Town Hall square will be open for onlookers starting at 3 pm. One hour later the Ring street between parliament and Schottentor will be closed, starting at 6 pm that barrier will be extended until Operngasse.
The Life Ball starts at 7:30 pm with the Red Carpet, the opening show will start at 9:30 pm. The opening will be a Circus Roncalli themed show. The hosts of the event are Conchita Wurst and Dianne Brill, a muse of artist Andy Warhol. The Life Ball will be transmitted live on ORF2.
Source: Die Presse
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