Days before elections, Austrian parliament raises social spending

Austrian ParliamentVienna - With only three days to go before general elections, Austria's parliament passed several social spending bills which had been initiated by the Social Democratic Party (SPOe).

At the end of a 19-hour special session that lasted until early Thursday morning, lawmakers decided to abolish public university fees and raise government allowances for nursing care and for families.

The ruling Social Democrats formed various voting coalitions with different parties to push their bills through.

As inflation is dominating the election campaign, the SPOe's last- minute proposals put other political factions under pressure to agree to some of the bills.

The Social Democrats and the conservative People's Party (OeVP), who currently form the governing coalition, are engaged in a head-to- head race for the elections on Sunday, with the SPOe led by Werner Faymann slightly ahead in the polls.

However, both parties are expected to suffer massive losses at the hand of right-wing parties such as the Freedom Party (FPOe), which is forecast to come in third. (dpa)

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