Hofer attacks ‘nuclear power lobbyist’ Schüssel

Freedom Party (FPÖ) chiefs have turned their guns on People’s Party (ÖVP) officials in the wake of detonations at a nuclear power plant in Japan.FPÖ deputy chairman Norbert Hofer said today (Tues) former ÖVP Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel must make a decision over whether he wanted to be a “lobbyist for the nuclear power industry or a member of the Austrian parliament.”Hofer referred to Schüssel’s decision to join the supervisory board of the German energy giant RWE. The conservative politician – currently a member of the ÖVP delegation in the federal parliament in Vienna – joined the panel at the firm last year. RWE also runs nuclear power plants to generate electricity. Schüssel headed a government formed by the ÖVP and the FPÖ and later by the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) from 2000 to 2007.Hofer claimed it was impossible to be a member of the company’s supervisory board and representing Austria’s anti-nuclear energy policy at the same time.Referring to ÖVP Environment and Agriculture Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich’s suggestion to hold “stress tests” at nuclear power plants in Europe to determine how safe they are, Hofer said: “A stress test of nuclear power technology is currently going on in Japan.”FPÖ boss Heinz-Christian Strache meanwhile called for a special meeting of the Austrian parliament. The right-winger said such a gathering could be the starting point for a fresh initiative making the whole of Europe independent from nuclear power.ÖVP Finance Minister Josef Pröll announced today he does not expect the recent occurrences in Japan to have any immediate effects on the global economy. Tens of thousands of people lost their homes when tsunami waves swept through cities and towns near the coast after last week’s strong earthquake.Pröll, who is vice chancellor of a coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the ÖVP, said “urgent crisis management” measures in Japan must now be given priority.