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Austria’s Nehammer formally elected party leader in unanimous vote

The Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer was formally elected leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) on Saturday.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer addresses a press conference in Berlin in March 2022.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer addresses a press conference in Berlin in March 2022. Photo: Stefanie Loos / POOL / AFP.

The ÖVP has governed at the federal level in an alliance with the Greens since early 2020 and, at a special federal party conference on Saturday, 100 percent of the delegates voted for the Austrian Chancellor (who has been in office for just over five months now) to be their leader.

READ ALSO: PROFILE: Who is Karl Nehammer, Austria’s new chancellor?

Nehammer’s predecessor Sebastian Kurz had resigned as Chancellor and ÖVP chairman in October 2021 following investigations into suspected corruption. Since then, Nehammer had held the party chairmanship on an interim basis. 

Sebastian Kurz has since completely retired from politics and now works for American investor and billionaire Peter Thiel, who has close ties to former US President Donald Trump.

Prior to the vote, Nehammer gave a speech promoting his election as party chairman: “We are the first servants of this country, and with your help, I will also become the federal party chairman of the People’s Party,” he said.

The heads of the ÖVP traditionally tend to get high results in their first election as chairman. Kurz was elected party leader in 2017 with 98.7 percent of the vote. However, there has never been a 100 percent result in a first-time election until now.

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VIENNA

Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Not every waste management department in the world gets a helicopter or military aircraft, but Austria's MA 48 isn't every waste management department. Here's why you may have seen the familiar orange colours on helicopters and military planes.

Why does Vienna's waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

The Viennese municipal waste department, known as MA48, is undoubtedly a big part of daily life in the Austrian capital – and not only for practical reasons.

Every Viennese will be familiar with the department’s extensive public relations campaigns, from contests for choosing funny one-liners for its trash cans to weekend-long outdoor events showing kids (and grownups) the importance of the proper waste collection and circular economy.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

But some of these public relations expenses might be harder to swipe under the carpet as the City of Vienna Court of Audit shone a light on the high costs of some of these actions, according to the daily newspaper Der Standard.

Most impressively, the audit made by request of opposition party FPÖ showed high expenses, including hiring a military aircraft and a helicopter – quite uncommon for a municipal waste department.

The MA 48 justifies the expenses by saying the aircraft served to attract apprentices and for public relations.

The SPÖ party, which governs Vienna, said that the department achieved “a maximum effect with a minimum budget with its public relations work” and “the advertising measures served to educate citizens and thus protect the environment.”, according to a press release.

READ ALSO: Why Vienna is a haven for wild animals – and where you can find them

The apprentices during one of Ma 48’s events in Vienna (Copyright: Christian Houdek/PID)

Vienna’s audit court partially understands but still recommended some measures to improve transparency. The PR department of MA 48 will set up a cost centre to improve those issues, according to Der Standard.

The City Audit Office Committee will meet for its periodical review of public expenses on May 19th, when the subject should be further debated.

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