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

Catholics are cancelling their 'church tax' as inflation rises, busy weekend with holiday ahead, Christmas lights cut and more news from Austria on Wednesday.

obb austria train
ÖBB recommends people make seat reservations ahead of busy travel weekend (© ÖBB/Christian Auerweck)

Catholics are asking for reductions in the church contribution

Austria’s Church contribution fee is a part of life for all Catholics in the country. If you register as a catholic, you pay a fee depending on your income and means. This allows you to participate in catholic sacraments and receive assistance if needed.

However, as inflation rises, many people have started calling the church to ask for their contributions to be lowered.

“Due to the financial burden of the inflation, and the additional costs in the energy sector and rental sector, people really start to save and count every euro twice”, church contribution centre manager Reinhold Steffel told broadcaster ORF.

Most people can negotiate and “agree on an acceptable church contribution”. However, the church representatives also explain that the fee is “simply one of the fixed costs” for Catholics.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s church tax and how do I avoid paying it?

ÖBB expects a busy travel weekend

Due to the summer vacations and the holiday on Monday, Austria’s rail company ÖBB said it expects a busy travel weekend, website reported.

The company is, therefore, increasing its seat offers and will bring more trains to the rails. Still, ÖBB recommends people make seat reservations to guarantee their journeys.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train

Family members of terror attack victims receive €450,000

Nine family members of the four people killed by a jihadist gunman in the November 2020 terror attack in Vienna have been compensated by the Terror Victims Fund. They have received a total of just over € 450,000.

The fund was created by the victim support institution Weisse Ring, a private association.

Two other family members’ requests are still pending, but all 11 relatives have already received a sum of more than € 10,000, the Austrian media said without providing the exact amount. The fund also covered funeral costs, and the state provided them therapeutic care.

On November 2nd, 2020, a man fired opened fire in the city centre of Vienna before being killed by the police. In all 17 people were shot, four of whom died. In addition, several people were hurt while running away, and many were traumatised. In total, the Terror Victims Fund assisted 220 people with therapy, support groups or financial assistance.

BACKGROUND: Vienna attack carried out by Isis supporter who ‘fooled’ Austrian authorities

Fewer Christmas lights this year due to the energy crisis

In order to save energy, there will be less festive lighting for Christmas in Vienna this year. The famous Viennese holiday lights will be scaled back and switched on later in the season, Economic City Council Peter Hanke (SPÖ) said.

The city of Vienna and the Vienna Chamber of Commerce have agreed that there will be no Christmas lights on the Ringstrasse this year, Kurier reported.

The city of Vienna will also only switch on the Christmas lights at the Christmas market on Rathausplatz in the dark (instead of at dusk). That means about an hour later than before.

READ ALSO: How to celebrate Christmas like an Austrian

Dry and warm Wednesday in Austria

The day is primarily sunny in Austria, with some clouds forming around the mountains. Daily maximum temperatures should be between 23C and 29C, with higher temperatures mainly in the west.

At night, low temperatures will be between 8C to 16C.

The day will be mostly sunny in Vienna, with a few clouds in the morning. The maximum temperature is around 28C. The night will be starry and windless, with low temperatures around 15C.

READ ALSO: The five best places for stargazing in Austria

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

Energy cost subsidy announced, the latest Strache controversy, weather forecast and more news from Austria on Thursday.

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

Energy cost subsidy for companies is increased

Since many companies can no longer afford the sharply increased energy costs, the government has decided to increase the budget for a subsidy from €450 million to €1.3 billion. 

Specifically, funds are earmarked for companies that spend at least much of their turnover on electricity, gas and fuels, the daily newspaper Die Presse reported.

The first money is supposed to flow later this year, but the subsidies will be retroactively paid to bills from February to September 2022.

Each company can receive up to €50 million.

READ ALSO: From lighting to ice skating: How Vienna plans to save energy

Tyrol could have a three-way coalition

In Tyrol, there will likely be either a two-party coalition of centre-right ÖVP and centre-left SPÖ or a tripartite alliance of ÖVP, Greens and Neos. 

Anton Mattle, the  ÖVP candidate tasked with forming the state’s new government, will invite these parties “in a timely manner” to an exploratory round before a final decision on coalition negotiations, he told journalists on Wednesday evening after the initial discussion round in Innsbruck’s Landhaus.

Tyrol had state elections on Sunday, and the ÖVP suffered a significant loss, though it was the most voted party. It now needs to enter into an agreement with other parties to form a parliamentary majority.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who will be Tyrol’s new governor?

Former vice-chancellor Strache makes headlines again

If you see the face of former vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (formerly FPOe) on the news often this week – and maybe even on one or two satirical drawings, that’s because of the latest, well, gossip regarding the politician.

The once powerful politician fell in disgrace after a video of him bragging about his party’s influence on Austrian media and organisations leaked. The video, shot with a hidden camera and the help of people pretending to have ties with Russian oligarchs, was filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza. It was released in 2019 and crumbled the OeVP-FPOe coalition. 

Since then, both parties, and Strache, have faced corruption allegations and charges.

Now, the controversy surrounding the former vice-chancellor also involves his personal life. He recently divorced from long-time partner Philippa Strache, an Austrian politician who stood by him during the Ibiza affair. 

The reason came out this week: Strache apparently hid the fact he had a child with another woman from his wife. A daughter was born in 2016, just eight months before the lavishing Strache wedding ceremony in Wachau.

READ ALSO: ‘Ibizagate’: What you need to know about the Austrian political corruption scandal


Screenshot from ZAMG  

Numerous cloud fields will cover the country, the sun will only appear occasionally and there will still be rain showers in the morning, especially in the eastern half, Austria´s meteorological institute ZAMG said.

In the afternoon, the precipitation will decrease, but in the west and south of Austria, rain and showers will set in again with the arrival of the next disturbance. The snow line will be around 2000m above sea level. 

Winds will often be light from mainly northerly directions. Afternoon temperatures should stay between 9 and 16 degrees.

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected].