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Today in Austria For Members

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

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Following the 2023 state elections, the governing coalition of the ÖVP and FPÖ has been formed. On May 26, 2023, Governor Wilfried Haslauer (ÖVP) and the future Deputy Governor Marlene Svazek (FPÖ) presented the working agreement for the next five years and the new provincial government. In the picture: future Deputy Governor Marlene Svazek, Governor Wilfried Haslauer. (Photo: Land Salzburg/Franz Neumayr)

Three dead in Mödling Hospital fire, protests against coalition with far-right in Salzburg, rents are set to rise again and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

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  • Three dead in Mödling hospital fire

Three people died Tuesday in a fire at a hospital just south of Austria's capital, a spokeswoman said.

"The cause of the fire could not yet be determined with certainty," said the spokeswoman for the hospital in Modling, about 14 kilometres (9 miles) from Vienna. The fire broke out at the hospital at around 1:00 am, according to a statement from the regional health agency.

Authorities said 33 vehicles, 170 firefighters and a Red Cross team were dispatched to put out the blaze, which was brought under control after two hours.

Uninjured patients were transferred to other facilities, and an investigation has been launched, they said.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

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  • About 1,200 protest against the black-blue coalition in Salzburg

According to the police, around 1,200 people participated in the large-scale demonstration against the new Salzburg government of ÖVP and FPÖ, despite the weather on Whit Monday. The organisers even spoke of more than 2,000; originally, 300 were expected. 

Already at the beginning, numerous signs with expressions of displeasure about black-blue could be seen at the main station.

Protesters criticised governor Wilfried Haslauer (ÖVP), who, during the elections, rejected a coalition with the far-right FPÖ - only to announce such a deal later on. In speeches, the protesters said the centre-right ÖVP governor "tends to forget the 'never again'" when convenient. 

Several activist groups, from climate activists Fridays for Future, feminist activists from various organisations, anti-racist collectives and the Omas gegen Rechts ("Grandmas against the right") groups, participated in the march.

READ ALSO: Five things you should know about the Salzburg elections

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  • Couple in custody after being charged with depriving 23-year-old daughter of her freedom

On Saturday evening in Vienna-Döbling, a 53-year-old man and his 52-year-old wife were arrested by the Vienna Public Prosecutor's Office on charges of ongoing violence. The couple is accused of subjecting their daughter, who had been living with them until recently, to years of abuse, as stated by the provincial police headquarters on Sunday. The 23-year-old woman had previously reported her parents to the police.

According to the police spokesperson, Philipp Haßlinger, the woman allegedly endured a strict regime of violence imposed by her parents since childhood. She was reportedly subjected to regular beatings and torture for approximately ten years. Verbal humiliations were also part of the abuse. The father is accused of forcibly removing earrings from the daughter's earlobe as punishment and using a belt to discipline her if she failed to comply with his rules and values. It is alleged that she was confined to their apartment for several days and had her freedom restricted.

Haßlinger noted that religious and ideological factors may have played a role in the case. The parents are formally stateless but originally from Afghanistan. The daughter also claims that the parents forced her to take out loans from a bank under threats of violence.

The parents have denied the accusations against them. However, after being interrogated by the criminal investigation department, they were taken into custody at Josefstadt Prison. 

In addition to the charges of ongoing violence and deprivation of liberty, the parents are also being investigated for aggravated extortion and aggravated coercion. The LKA West Branch is conducting further investigations. The 23-year-old daughter has been relocated to a women's shelter for safety.

READ ALSO: What happens when a foreign national gets arrested in Austria?

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  • Two earthquakes registered in the Gloggnitz area in Lower Austria

Two earthquakes occurred in the Gloggnitz area of the Neunkirchen district on Monday, with only a few hours between them. The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 3.0, occurred at 2:23 a.m., while the second one, measuring 3.2 in magnitude, occurred at 6:46 p.m. According to the Austrian Seismological Service (GeoSphere Austria), both tremors were strongly felt in the immediate vicinity. Some isolated cases of minor damage may have occurred as a result.

Previously, on March 30th, a significant earthquake measuring 4.2 in magnitude occurred in the Gloggnitz area during the late evening hours. 

The local population widely felt the earthquake, and numerous reports of minor damage were received. Since then, the region has experienced several aftershocks.

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  • Austrians call for a government-backed rent brake

Due to the persistent inflationary pressures, tenants are bracing themselves for another round of rent increases in July, with category rents expected to rise by approximately 5.5 percent, broadcaster ORF reported. This would mark the fourth increase within 15 months and significantly burden about 135,000 households if the government does not intervene.

The Chamber of Labor (AK), the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB), and the tenants' association are expressing alarm and renewing their call to implement rent control measures.

Walter Rosifka, a housing law expert at the Chamber of Labor (AK), said: "Four increases in 15 months totalling almost 24 percent - this is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many." Helene Schuberth, chief economist at the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB), added, "For a 70-square-meter apartment, this translates to a total increase of €790 within 15 months. It exacerbates inflationary pressures for everyone." As a result, housing costs have become a "significant financial burden" for one in three tenants while the real estate industry continues to reap substantial profits.

The impending rent increase will impact all households residing in properties governed by the Tenancy Law Act, including privately owned old buildings constructed before 1945 and whose rental agreements were concluded before March 1st, 1994. This accounts for approximately 135,000 households. Category rents are raised when inflation exceeds five percent, with the index figure from March 2023 serving as the basis for the July increase, which stood at 9.2 percent, according to Statistics Austria.

It should be noted that the ripple effects of category rent increase extend beyond the directly affected tenants, as they also lead to higher operating costs for nearly all renters. The tenants' association has emphasised that the rise in category rents will have implications for the operating costs of a wide range of tenants.

READ ALSO: What is it like to rent a home in Austria?

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