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

The Local Austria
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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
1st of May at Rathausplatz in Vienna. (SPÖ Presse und Kommunikation © Kurt Prinz)

Law against light pollution comes into force, super-election year dominates May 1st events, KPÖ kicks off the EU election campaign and more news from Austria on Thursday.

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Law against light pollution comes into force

Upper Austria is the first federal state to introduce a law, an amendment to the Environmental Protection Act, to prevent light pollution.

The law came into force on Wednesday, broadcaster ORF said.

Light pollution in Europe is rising, increasing by six percent every year.

In Linz, the sky is over 50 times brighter than a natural night sky, which impacts human health as well as animals and plants.

Over half of all animals are nocturnal and are disturbed by artificial light, causing migratory birds to stray from their routes and billions of insects to die on lantern lights.

“If night is turned into day, then they are simply disturbed,” explained Martin Schwarz, an insect expert from the Linz Biology Center.

The new law aims to produce less but better light: “The goal was never that there should be no more light, but rather that we should get rid of all the light that we don't need, the light that is just turned up even though it is not needed,” said Upper Austria State Councillor for the Environment Stefan Kaineder.

Who is Austria’s Beer Party candidate for chancellor?

Austria's controversial but increasingly popular Beer Party announced it would run in the upcoming National Council elections, with party leader and former rock star Dominik Wlazny seeking the chancellery.

Super-election year dominates May 1st events

Politicians took the opportunity to conduct some electoral campaigning at May Day events across the country on Wednesday.

SPÖ leader Andreas Babler positioned the Social Democrats as a guarantor against an “authoritarian turn” with a far-right FPÖ in government. In contrast, FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl repeated his goal of making Austria a “fortress”, promoting himself as “People’s Chancellor”.

Babler said they would stand together like a bulwark to defend Austria's democratic pillars to prevent a change to “black-blue or blue-black” (ÖVP- FPÖ/ FPÖ-ÖVP).

He called proposals to extend working hours "crazy". 

“What’s next, reintroduce corporal punishment? This takes us back to another century. We want to move into a new era; we don’t deal with this nonsense,” he said.

Instead, he spoke in favour of reducing working hours.

Speaking to a full 5,000-capacity beer tent at the Urfahraner Fair in Linz, the Freedom Party's Kickl called on people to “walk the necessary path of change” with him and support the FPÖ in the elections.

As “People’s Chancellor”, he said he wanted to turn the system around.

NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum – also used May 1st as an opportunity for an election campaign, urgently warning against Austria leaving the EU.

690,000 jobs would be at risk from an “Öxit”, said Helmut Brandstätter, NEOS' leading candidate for the EU elections.

The Green party drew attention to the fact that women still take on most unpaid or poorly paid care work, with "it's a holiday, but not a day off for mum" painted on a wall in Vienna to mark Labour Day. 

READ ALSO: Austria's 'super-election year': what will be decided and when?

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KPÖ kicks off the EU election campaign

The KPÖ, Austria's Communist Party, officially started its EU election campaign on Labour Day.

After the traditional May 1st demonstration, the communists presented their election posters and the first key points of their election programme in Vienna's Neubau district.

The EU's current “war mindset” needed to give way to a “peace mindset”, said Günther Hopfgartner, KPÖ chairman and top candidate for the European elections.

With their slogan of “Housing instead of guns” (Wohnen statt Kanonen), the communists' campaign combines an anti-war stance with their traditional core themes of affordable housing.

The posters also call for reducing politicians' salaries under the motto “Helping instead of taking” (Helfen statt kassieren), in line with their policies of wanting to “take Europe back from the rich.”

READ ALSO: Can Austria’s Communist Party get enough votes to enter the parliament?

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