Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

A sunny autumn scene in a park
Enjoy the sunshine in Austria today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Wednesday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

First speech by Austria’s new chancellor supports Finance Minister Gernot Blümel

Austria’s newly elected Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg used his first speech in national parliament on Tuesday to question the motion of no-confidence in Finance Minister Gernot Blümel, put forward by the opposition, Der Standard  newspaper reports.

According to the Wiener Zeitung newspaper the Chancellor said the motion was “incomprehensible”, a statement which drew indignation from the opposition benches, and led SPÖ chairwomen Rendi-Wagner to rebut that “it is not your place to lecture parliament”. The SPÖ’s motion against the Finance Minister did not pass despite support from the opposition, as the Greens abstained.

READ MORE: What to expect next in Austrian politics after Kurz resignation

Power ‘shifting away’ from former Chancellor Kurz within his ÖVP party

The real power centre of Austria’s centre-right ÖVP is beginning to shift away from former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the Die Presse newspaper reports. A number of senior ÖVP members have come out with critical statements towards Kurz in the past days, after having previously led a “unanimous” statement of support for him.

However, according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the scandal is not diminishing Kurz’s popularity among voters, which still remains around 35 percent, while the gap with Austria’s second largest party, the centre-left SPÖ, is steady at 10 percent.

First arrest made in corruption probe

A key suspect was arrested yesterday in connection with the alleged advertising corruption at the heart of government. The suspect, Sabine Beinschab, is said to have erased the hard drive of her computer shortly before a house search was undertaken by the Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutors Office.

This led to the media questioning if Beinschab had known if she would be raided in advance. The opposition centre-left SPÖ politician Christian Deutsch called on the centre-right ÖVP’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer to reply to these allegations, broadcaster ORF reports. The Ministry of the Interior maintains no information was passed on, the broadcaster adds.

READ MORE: First arrest made in Austrian government corruption probe 

Advert slammed by disability organisations

An advert for the supermarket chain Billa has been criticised by disability organisations.

The advertising campaign by the REWE Group, which owns the supermarket, involved yellow posters with the text  “With a disability you are NOT needed” REWE said this was a “teaser campaign”, according to broadcaster ORF, intended to deliberately address prejudices against people with disabilities. 

The second part of the campaign would have featured real life Billa employees on posters refuting these prejudices. The company also emphasized that of more than 33,000 employees, more than 660 people with various disabilities work for them, and said the campaign was intended to  encourage people to apply to the company.

However, disability representatives have demanded that the posters be removed, and the  criticism was also supported by Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens). He said on Twitter that the posters were  “discriminatory and hurtful” advertising.

Thousands of private kindergartens closed in Vienna in strike action

All private kindergartens in Vienna were closed until 12.30 p.m on Tuesday, with the exception of company kindergartens. Thousands of workers demonstrated in front of the capital’s Votive Church wearing orange safety vests, many with the inscription “Enough”.

Employees of private kindergartens blew whistles and horns and sounded rattles while demanding more funding, smaller groups and better support for new kindergarten workers. 

READ MORE: Vienna’s kindergartens partially closed as staff protest work conditions

Children who left school over the pandemic rules are returning to class

Around 70 children have come back to school in Upper Austria after being taken out due to the new coronavirus pandemic testing regime. According to broadcaster ORF, the Upper Austria Education Directorate was “surprised” and did not  expect children to return so early. 

In total 1,427 children were taken out of school at the beginning of term, most of them in the Mühlviertel educational region. The pupils can return to school at any time. All children who stay in home school will have to take extra tests this year, as well as an external exam at the end of the school year. 

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