Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Parliament

After the opera tour, we jumped onto a streetcar and squeaked into a tour of the parliament. This was a piece of humble pie for me.
We noticed in 2002 with our students that there are two kinds of people: parliament people and rathaus people. While the parliament building is neo-classical, the rathaus is neo-gothic. I fall firmly into the latter camp. So this was also the first time I've been inside here in the three summers we've spent in Vienna. It's a really beautiful building. Four bombs fell on this, and they are still repairing the last quadriga up on the top exterior. One of them took out two of these sixteen-ton marble pillars in the meet-and-mingle hall designed to create a free flow of ideas, just like at Pixar studios. Didn't work so well here between the aristocrats and the burghers.
This is the room for the Federal council. In addition to the elected representatives, there are sixty some-odd appointed people from the federal states who check and argue the merits of bills passed in the larger house. They do have veto power, but it is usually outgunned by a majority in the other house. These guys have the better room, though.
Up here you can see the nine coats of arms of the federal states of Austria. Let's see how many I can remember -- Burgenland, Vienna, Tyrol, Karnten, Niederoesterreich, Salzburg, Vorarlberg. I'm missing two. Who can fill in  the missing states? These guys have a rotating leadership and for these six months, Burgenland is in charge.
Here is the larger room, redone in the fifties. Parliament is finishing up its last session today before summer break. Among other things, they're thinking about decreasing summer vacation from nine weeks to six. Whoa.
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