Feature

Do Austrians really hate children?

The week's news at a glance.

Austria

Rainer NowakDie Presse

It’s no wonder Austria has one of the lowest birthrates in Europe, said Rainer Nowak in Vienna’s Die Presse. We have a minister of families who freely admits that “kids often get on one’s nerves.” Health and Families Minister Andrea Kdolsky hadn’t been in office a week before the news came out that she had once written a book celebrating the joys of being a single, childless woman. So what was the response of Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, who appointed this singularly unqualified person to this important post? He defended her. “She’s refreshingly honest,” Gusenbauer said. “To say that kids never get on your nerves is certainly not the truth.” Sorry, chancellor, but Austria doesn’t need that kind of strident honesty. Should the interior minister come out and admit that sometimes crime victims are asking for it? Should the social minister say some people game the welfare system? These things may all be true, but the job of a Cabinet member is to speak for those who use the services in his or her portfolio. As health and families minister, Kdolsky should know that “negative opinions are like childhood diseases: They are very, very contagious.”

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