METROPOLE - Vienna in English - - COVER STORY -

From ini­tial dis­cus­sions in par­lia­ment, draft bills are re­viewed by the min­istries and the So­cial Part­ners be­fore be­ing voted on in the lower and up­per house.

how fast MEPS have to be­come ex­perts on a great num­ber of com­plex top­ics. The leader of Aus­tria’s ÖVP del­e­ga­tion, long-serv­ing MEP Oth­mar Karas, re­cently fin­ished his dis­ser­ta­tion on the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment as the core of the con­ti­nent’s democ­racy. “This is the most trans­par­ent par­lia­ment [in Europe], where in­di­vid­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tives have the great­est ca­pac­ity to shape things,” Karas points out. Since there is no Euro­pean gov­ern­ment coax­ing its own deputies to vote a cer­tain way, ma­jori­ties have to be found case by case. “The ques­tions is,” says Karas, “do we want to na­tion­al­ize glob­al­iza­tion or de­moc­ra­tize it?” For Mandl, who “self-ac­ti­vated” po­lit­i­cally in 1994 when he cam­paigned for Aus­tria to join the EU in the 1995 ref­er­en­dum, the Euro­pean di­men­sion has be­come nat­u­ral. So nat­u­ral in fact, the Union should not fear pointed crit­i­cism any­more, he says. The de­bate should not be about an eter­nal “In or Out”, as the Bri­tish are do­ing, but in­stead a pas­sion­ate “How?” True to Aus­tria’s self-im­age, Mandl’s motto for his ten­ure in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is “Build­ing Bridges;” be­tween East and West and to other parts of the world, but cru­cially also be­tween vot­ers and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives. “The peo­ple know what they need a hair­dresser for, but not a deputy.” The key is in our ex­pec­ta­tions: “Democ­racy is al­ways a process, never a sta­ble state,” he points out. “Par­lia­men­tarism is truly one of hu­man­ity’s great in­ven­tions, up there with the wheel, elec­tric­ity and light bulb – our way of en­sur­ing that con­flicts won’t be dealt with on the streets with blows and punches, but on these wooden benches, with words, votes and con­vic­tions.” Back in Vienna, Stephanie Cox has found a way to voice her con­vic­tions about in­no­va­tion, dig­i­tal­iza­tion and the changes it will bring to the la­bor force. As she is set­tling into her role in the Par­lia­ment, she’s adamant about see­ing the big­ger pic­ture Aus­tria is help­ing to paint. “I love Europe and I’ve had a lot of ad­van­tages from be­ing part of it,” she mused. “As for Aus­tria, I grew up here and have so much to be thank­ful for, from my ed­u­ca­tion and the se­cu­rity I en­joyed to the cul­tural ex­change.” It is a world she will do her best to hand on to her chil­dren.

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