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Today in Austria For Members

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

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Austrian SPÖ Burgenland governor Hans Peter Doskozil hasn't had contact with the man he lost party leadership to during a recount - prompting speculation of a intra-party rift between the men's camps. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Centre-left SPÖ votes for Doskozil as its new leader, mountain rescuers issue warning ahead of the summer season, and more news from Austria on Monday.

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Centre-left SPÖ votes for Doskozil as its new leader

After weeks of debates over the leadership of the centre-party SPÖ, members cast their votes on Saturday afternoon. The party head was also announced over the weekend, with Burgenland governor Hans Peter Doskozil taking the position. He emerged victorious with 53.02 per cent, defeating his opponent Andreas Babler, the mayor of Traiskirchen, who received 46.81 per cent.

In his post-election speech, Doskozil firmly rejected the idea of forming a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party and the centre-left ÖVP. However, already on Sunday, he backtracked on his explicit rejection of a partnership with the ÖVP (while maintaining a position against the FPÖ). Instead, he said his goal was to make the SPÖ so strong that it would need no coalition parties but that he could not "deny the will of the voters".

Following the announcement of the results, Doskozil invited Babler onto the stage, symbolising a gesture of unity and reconciliation within the Social Democrats. The speeches of both candidates and the delegates at the party conference proceeded without tension, unlike the past few weeks.

Initially, 609 delegates were expected to decide on the SPÖ leadership at the special party congress in Linz. However, only 608 representatives participated, as outgoing SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner was notably absent. The former minister, who ranked third in the members' election, did not attend the party conference to bid farewell.

Last week, she resigned as chairwoman after coming in third in a members' poll for leadership. 

BACKGROUND: Austrian elections: Who will be the Social Democratic Party’s chancellor candidate?

EXPLAINED: Why job sectors in Austria are short of workers

Even as Austria's unemployment rate rose 0.2 per cent in May to 5.9 per cent, around 58 per cent of companies say they’re experiencing business difficulties directly related to the skilled labour shortage, according to a new labour market survey by the Credit Protection Association (KSV).

Around 320,000 people are looking for a job in Austria right now, marking the first increase in the unemployment rate in two years. Yet 26 per cent of companies – or over a quarter – say the skilled labour shortage is so dire that it’s significantly affecting their operations.

As a result, companies report a higher burden on their existing staff, and some have even had to turn down new orders or business due to a shortage of qualified staff.

So, why are job sectors in Austria short of workers?

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Woman threatened by misogynist man during train journey

On Sunday, a 27-year-old Italian man made death threats to a 38-year-old woman from Lower Austria, whom he did not know, while they were both on a train from Vienna to Carinthia, the public broadcaster ORF reported. 

He used gestures indicating that he would harm her, including mimicking cutting her neck. The train driver spotted this on the surveillance camera and promptly contacted the police. The man later revealed that his motive for the threats was rooted in misogyny, and the woman was a random victim.

The incident occurred on Sunday morning when the woman from Lower Austria was a passenger on the train. The unknown Italian man repeatedly threatened her during the journey. He used various gestures, including one where he imitated holding a pistol with his hand and pointing his fingers at her, indicating harm. The train driver observed this through the onboard surveillance system and immediately reported it to the police emergency hotline

The Italian man was apprehended at Friesach train station. During his questioning, with the assistance of an interpreter, he confessed to the crime. In addition, he revealed that his motive for the threats stemmed from his misogynistic beliefs, and the 38-year-old woman was chosen randomly as his victim. 

It was discovered that he had previously threatened women in Unzmarkt, but they ignored him and continued on their way. Consequently, an arrest warrant was issued for the 27-year-old man, and he was transferred to the Klagenfurt police detention centre. He will face charges of making dangerous threats.

READ ALSO: What are the most common crimes in Vienna?

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  • Mountain rescue warns of dangers in the mountains ahead of the summer season

The Mountain Rescue Service warned about the current mountain hazards as the summer season begins. Significant snowfields still exist at medium and higher altitudes, posing an increased risk of slipping. For hikers, it is advisable to plan shorter routes at the start of the season, and for e-bikers, it is recommended to undertake a few flat tours to become familiar with the bike.

Lack of fitness and overestimation are the primary causes of mountain accidents. According to Martin Burger from the Vorarlberg Mountain Rescue Service, many hikers fail to consider the dangers present in the early summer mountains. Substantial snow remains at medium and higher altitudes, particularly on the shaded side, increasing the risk of slipping and falling.

There is also an increasing number of e-bikers venturing into the mountains. While ascending is often manageable, accidents frequently occur during descents. In addition, especially at the beginning of the season, many e-bikers lack experience, and some are riding an e-bike off-road for the first time, he explained.

"E-bikes should not be underestimated, as they are heavier with a different centre of gravity than conventional mountain bikes. Downhill riding requires extra attention", Burger said. Due to inertia and increased weight, braking distances must be considered well in advance to prevent accidents.

He advises starting with a few flat tours to reacquaint oneself with the heavier e-bike. This way, riders can gain better control even in challenging situations.

Last year, between the beginning of June and the end of September, the mountain rescue service responded to 273 missions, while the air rescue service received 570 alerts during the same period.

READ ALSO: How to keep safe and avoid problems when hiking in the Austrian Alps

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Man rescues girl from Danube River

On Saturday night on the Danube River, a man rescued a seven-year-old girl from the water, saving her life. The incident occurred near the Vienna City Beach Club in Kaisermühlen, where the girl was swimming with friends. Suddenly, she submerged under the water at around 7 p.m., as the professional rescue service reported on Sunday.

Fortunately, a nearby man witnessed the situation and swiftly reacted. He jumped into the Danube, retrieved the girl from under the water, and brought her safely ashore. He then assessed the girl's condition and noticed she was not breathing. The man initiated resuscitation measures, performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After a few breaths, the girl expelled water from her system and regained her ability to breathe independently, as confirmed by the rescue team in their statement.

By the time the professional rescue team arrived, the girl had regained consciousness. 

They took over the necessary medical treatment and transported her to a hospital in stable condition. "Due to his swift actions and correct first aid measures, the first responder undeniably saved the girl's life", the team said.

READ ALSO: The German language you need for summer in Austria

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Hot and humid weather with thunderstorms approaching

According to the Geosphere Austria forecast, unstable and muggy weather with thunderstorms is expected in Austria this week. 

Showers and local thunderstorms are likely on Monday, especially in the eastern regions. The western areas will have fewer showers. Tuesday will bring a mix of sun and clouds, with showers and potential thunderstorms in the eastern half. Wednesday will see temporary sunshine but an increased chance of showers and thunderstorms, particularly on the northern side of the Alps. Thursday and Friday will continue to be muggy and unsettled, with rain becoming more likely.

READ ALSO: How to protect yourself during storms in Austria

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].

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