Coalition cuts back travel costs

The Austrian government has reduced its travel expenses.A parliamentary enquiry by the Freedom Party (FPÖ) showed yesterday (Thurs) that the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) spent 2.2 million Euros on 220 trips abroad last year, less than in 2004 and 2008. Figures for 2009 have not been disclosed since no parliamentary faction issued a request last year.A coalition government of ÖVP and FPÖ and later the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) had the highest spending on journeys abroad at around 10 million Euros in 2005.Yesterday’s enquiry also revealed that ÖVP Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Spindelegger went on the most trips abroad (41) last year ahead of ÖVP Vice Chancellor Josef Pröll and the party’s Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich (20 each).Education and Culture Minister Claudia Schmied was found to be the SPÖ minister with the most business trips outside Austria (18) in 2010 ahead, followed by Chancellor Werner Faymann and Defence Minister Norbert Darabos who both went on 15 journeys.Meanwhile, the FPÖ is becoming more and more popular. A Karmasin poll showed last month that 24 per cent would now support the right-wing party in general elections. The FPÖ garnered 17.5 per cent in the most recent federal elections held in 2008.The SPÖ would win 30 per cent (2008: 29.3 per cent), with the ÖVP in second with 27 per cent (2008: 26 per cent). Karmasin sees the BZÖ at around four per cent, down from the 10.7 per cent it claimed in the general election of 2008. The Greens have the support of 13 per cent of Austrians at the moment. The party headed by Eva Glawischnig garnered 10.4 per cent in the 2008 ballot.