Tag Archives: politics

The Mayor

15 Sep

I just saw the mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, on my street. He looked very happy and was, of course, walking around without any security detail. Ah, Vienna!

40 demonstrations

15 May

My heart goes out to the police in Vienna today. After over a year of extra work enforcing the pandemic restrictions, they now have to deal with 40 demonstrations in downtown Vienna today. Some are against the (ever more quickly vanishing) covid restrictions and some are to do with the situation in the Middle East. I can’t even imagine how you fit 40 demonstrations into the first district!

May Day or International Workers Day 2021

1 May

Things that aren’t happening that are a reminder of the pandemic: the annual May Day parades organized by the Social Democrats, a political force to be reckoned with in Vienna. Today the street outside my window is quiet. No brass bands are playing as the loyal SPÖ members make their way to the City Hall to celebrate this international day of blue-collar workers. Instead here is at least a photo of the flags I saw on our morning walk:

And speaking of politics …

30 Sep

… I just saw the Chancellor of Austria walking down my street. He’s not my choice and for years I’ve thought he was overrated, but I am impressed that he was walking down a normal street, apparently alone (no security), wearing a mask. It seemed so unlikely to me that I asked a woman who was also watching him go by if that was “der Kurz” and she said, “leider” (“unfortunately yes”).

The Color of Politics in Vienna

24 Sep

I can’t help thinking that the choice of color here is not random. Vienna is voting on October 11 and I can imagine that many of the people who work for the parks and gardens department are at least originally Social Democrats. (As I have observed before, it’s not called Red Vienna for nothing. ;-))

Politics (with a dash of humor)

21 Sep

The guy on the left: This is a stick-up. Hands up and gimme your money. Dalli, dalli! [Viennese dialect for “fast”]

The guy on the right: Lucky for me, not a foreigner!

Caption: The priorities of the right-wing voters

(Vienna is voting on 11 October 2020.)

Georg Kapsch: The departing head of the Federation of Austrian Industries

13 Jun

This is something that really struck me when I moved to Austria – how the relationship between management and labor was more collaborative than in the U.S.A. There was a sense that Austria as a whole could only do well if everyone was doing all right, that economic success could not happen on the backs of one group.

In this interview, it becomes clear that Georg Kapsch is of the old school. A departing president of the body representing (big) business talking about how to close the gap between rich and poor and how to make sure everyone gets the education they need to be a contributing member of society? Seems pretty radical these days. I hope his successor is on the same page!

A link to the interview is below. Unfortunately, you do have to subscribe to the digital edition to read the whole thing.

https://kurier.at/wirtschaft/georg-kapsch-diese-sommerschule-ist-zu-wenig/400938857

Political colors in Austria

8 Jan

I may have written before about the colors of Austria’s political parties–black used to be the color of the ÖVP (the conservative party), turquoise is the color of the new ÖVP under Sebastian Kurz, red is the color of the SPÖ (the social democratic party), pink is for the NEOs (the neoliberals), blue is the color of the FPÖ (the right-wing nationalist party), and green is, I believe, self-explanatory.

Commenting on the new coalition government, formed by the turquoise and green parties, President Alexander van der Bellen (formerly of the Greens now an independent) said he hoped for a red-white-red government. Nothing to do with political parties this time. Red-white-red are the colors of the Austrian flag.

Wien Museum (Vienna Museum)

10 Jan

I went to the Wien Museum (formerly Museum der Stadt Wien) at Karlsplatz this afternoon. For some reason, I feel the need to justify this on a Thursday. My justification is this: at about noon I finished the preparation for my big meeting tomorrow, the preparation that shortened my Christmas vacation by three to five days, depending on how you count it. Now I’m making up part of one of those missing vacation days.

The incentives were also strong. The Museum will be closing for extensive renovation and expansion on 3 February 2019, and an exhibition I’ve been wanting to see ends this Sunday already. (I can’t go tomorrow–big meeting–and I hate going on weekends because there are so many people).

In fact there were two exhibitions I really wanted to see so I was there for the better part of two hours, until they closed. One is called “Fluchtspuren” (or “What Remains: Traces of Refugees”). The other is called “Die Erkämpfte Republik” (or “The Hard-Won Republic”) and shows photos and newsreels from the first year of the First Republic of Austria (one hundred years ago).

“Traces of Refugees” is small. It displays 15 telling, everyday objects–shorts lovingly sewn by a mother for her son out of sailcloth and with buttons scrounged from a soldier or the keys that are all that remain of a house that was destroyed when a whole village was burned to the ground in the Balkan Wars. All the objects are connected to refugees to Austria, mainly to Vienna, and mainly at the end of the First World War as the Austro-Hungarian Empire was disintegrating, during the Second World War, and during the Balkan Wars (which I remember as I was already living here then).

This exhibition was in conjunction with a small but wonderful exhibition about Lisa Jalowetz Aronson, who was a costume and scenery designer (as well as being a Jewish refugee in the Second World War). Among other things, she worked with her husband on Broadway, where she landed after being born in Prague, raised in Cologne, and educated in Vienna. The exhibition included a video interview with her done, I think, by her grandchildren. Quite something! She struck me as the epitome of resilience, laughing easily as she recounted hair-raising stories like how angry she was at her parents that they wouldn’t let her finish her art studies in Vienna (in 1938). “They probably saved my life but I was still furious,” she tells us.

“The Hard-Won Republic” was an important and effective reminder that this city, which is now so beautiful and rich, was cold and starving at the end of the First World War. Trees were being cut down in the Vienna Woods (my Vienna Woods!) to make sure people had something to heat with, and the Viennese traveled out of the city to glean the fields once the farmers had harvested what they wanted. People were literally starving to death and, of course, were terribly vulnerable to disease, particularly tuberculosis.

Beyond that, things that stuck out for me were the fact that Kaiser Karl, Franz Josef’s successor and emperor for only two years, didn’t understand why people wanted him to abdicate(!). (Seeing a photo of him getting off a plane at the airfield in Aspern with his wife and children reminded me that this is all recent enough–and I have been here long enough–to have seen Zita Hapsburg’s funeral in Vienna. Something to tell my grandchildren, if I had any.)

Other things: Within days after the end of the war, there were three security forces in Vienna, each allied with a different political platform. Anti-Semitism was as strong and, in some ways as subtle, as ever. Women were getting the vote. People were taking to the streets–a different group practically every day it seemed. And in 1924 there was a massive anti-war protest (“Nie wieder Krieg!” or “Never again war!”) in front of the City Hall.

If I’d had time, I could have gone to the “Gemma, Gemma” exhibition (“Gemma” is Viennese for “Let’s go” or “Let’s get going”) about the coming renovations and expansion. As it is, I took a brief moment on my way out to watch a video about it. It looks very promising. (And this from someone who hates change.)

An afternoon very well spent, if you ask me.

New Mayor

26 May

I just feel I should report that after 23(?) years Vienna has a new mayor. Dr. Michael Häupl departed on Thursday and the new mayor, Dr. Michael Ludwig, has taken up the reins. Just FYI: It’s not a pre-requisite that you be called Michael to be mayor of Vienna. The one before Häupl was named Helmut … However, it does seem to help if you have a PhD.