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The situation: Inside Austria - dispute about the restructuring of the parliament


Would you like a grand piano with a gilded piano cover? Or champagne on the roof terrace? Austria's President of the National Council, Sobotka, oversaw the reorganization of parliament - and made himself unpopular in the process.

Parliament was five years old all over again, this week it will open to visitors again - and it wouldn't be Austrian politics if there weren't numerous skirmishes about the redesign.

This may also be due to the client: President of the National Council Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) polarizes like no other politician in Austria.

Most of the reorganization of the parliament took place during Sobotka's era as President of the National Council, who took over the office in winter 2017 from the future Minister of Agriculture Elisabeth Köstinger.

Incidentally, on the career platform LinkedIn, she describes herself as a former “President of Parliament” – this post does not exist in Austria.

In any case, Sobotka made a few mistakes when it came to the reopening.

In times of inflation, he gushed about the new parliament restaurant in a social media video while sipping champagne on the roof terrace.

He also ordered a partially gilded piano, which a tabloid newspaper dubbed "Protz grand piano".

He is said to have named individual halls and wings without much consultation with the other factions.

The Social Democrats are particularly upset by the »Friedrich-von-Hayek wing« because the neoliberal economist Hayek supported the terror regime in Chile and declared that he would prefer »a liberal dictator to a democratic government that lacks liberalism«.

Within the parties there is also trouble about the premises.

Only a few offices for MPs are planned in the new parliament.

The largest opposition party SPÖ gets just two – and they are occupied by club chairwoman and party leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner and her deputy Jörg Leichtfried.

This means that their entire "back office" and other MPs continue to work in the SPÖ club at Reichsratsstrasse 9, while the boss and deputy work in the fine parliament.

At least that's how critical employees see it, who apparently have little desire to walk a few minutes for meetings with the chairman.

The fact is that in future all club officials will have offices in Parliament.

Whether they interpret it as a base or actually work there may vary between the individual factions.

The seating plan in the renovated meeting room will also be redefined at some clubs.

Some MPs pointed out that it was important to pay close attention to who was no longer allowed to sit next to each other or who was given a seat in the last row.

Some parliamentarians also apparently spread rumors that the third President of the National Council, Norbert Hofer (FPÖ), had to leave his beautiful old office to the ÖVP club chairman August Wöginger - typical ÖVP, it was rumored.

But that's wrong, Hofer tells STANDARD: "I have exactly the same office that I had before the renovation.

My office manager also works right next door in his old office towards the Ring.

I've heard that rumor before, but it's actually false."

The opening ceremony for the public will take place on January 12th with a big ceremony.

Two days later, Sobotka and his colleagues in the presidium will cut the opening ribbon in front of the entrance and invite the people to parliament.

The first session of the National Council is planned for the end of January - and then new criticism of Sobotka is likely to fall soon.

Because even in the meeting room, some MPs have a lot to complain about ... To be continued.

Social media moment of the week

Many in the SPÖ are reacting nervously to the decision to appoint the controversial ex-editor-in-chief of the online medium »ZackZack«, Thomas Walach, as head of digital party communications.

He is notorious for his disputes on Twitter.

It was quiet for a few weeks.

But then Walach proved why he is so feared: Because a user had blocked his private Twitter account, Walach wrote to him from the SPÖ account – and thus triggered criticism and malice.

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And once again a note on our own behalf: You can order this briefing as a newsletter to your e-mail inbox here.

Best regards from Vienna,

Your Fabian Schmid, deputy head of department Chronicle & Domestic Policy, DER STANDARD

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2023-01-10

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