Austria is a strange country. A very strange country, in fact. I have fond memories of an Austrian professor of political science some years ago explaining in great detail how the Austrians devised a highly complex procedure for the parliamentary adoption of EC legislation. Not that the Austrians ever used it (okay, once or twice during the early years of Austria’s EU membership), but every – and I mean every – possible bureaucratic and parliamentary bell and whistle had been considered and pulled.
I should note that my Austrian colleague is a master of suspense: Even if everybody knew what was coming, his deadpan approach to the subject kept the audience spellbound. And as a Swedish colleague said afterwards: If you thought that was hilarious, you should hear him analysing Austrian politics late at night.
But of cause, to me Austria is forever linked with the statement “the situation is catastrophic, but not serious”, so what would you expect anyway?
To be fair, Austria isn’t the only European country which has seen kidnappings of children and where the police have acted ineffectively triggering a major political scandal (Belgium, anybody? Another surreal European country with a history of divisions and proporz rule) – but according to Die Zeit, the Kampusch affair – or rather the government’s handling of an inquest into the affair and attempts by high officials to cover up irregularities – may bring down the coalition.