ÖVP calls for Sunday trading in Vienna
Austria's People's Party (ÖVP) has repeated calls for Sunday trading in Vienna, especially in connection with next year's Eurovision Song Contest.
Currently, Vienna's stores are mostly closed on Sundays, a move which has been in the past supported by churches and trade unions, to maintain quality of life for those who might otherwise have to work on those days.
A few exceptions include restaurants, and a handful of markets in major train stations, at the airport and in some museum shops.
Now the Viennese ÖVP Business Association is advocating that Sunday opening be permitted in selected tourist zones in Austria's capital city, and has announced that negotiations have begun with the city government.
The deputy chairwoman of the federal ÖVP, Margarete Gumprecht, has also pleaded on Wednesday for the creation of such zones.
According to Gumprecht, the ball is in the court of Vienna's socialist mayor Michael Häupl (SPÖ), whose party has traditionally opposed Sunday trading.
A working group in the Austria Chamber of Commerce is due soon to release a report on the matter, which will then be considered by Häupl.
The director of the Vienna Economic Alliance, Alexander Biach, believes that the political discussion can begin in September. Biach's view is that tourist zones in Vienna should be free to open on Sundays, but that this would require an accord between various affected parties, including employee representatives.
First, however, experts from the working group have to analyze the situation. "It's all about the survey of which economic and growth potential Sunday opening would bring."
Vienna has frequently had debates on Sunday opening over the years, with some controversial figures including Richard Lugner, who has long sought permission to open his Lugner City shopping mall on the weekend.
The Eurovision Song Contest next year could bring Sunday shopping to Vienna while it's on - but whether it will be a permanent feature of the city's weekend life remains to be seen.