They have made democracy their business, whether as a software developer, university professor, museum director or in the parliamentary administration.
“Even when it seems like politics has arrived at a dead end, every five years we have a re-start, with a certain spirit and a positive atmosphere, with new people and new ideas.”
In the midst of a massive renovation of Austria’s Parliament building on the Ringstrasse, parliamentary offices are currently located in temporary facilities in and on the grounds of the Hofburg.
Even during the transition to a new administration, the Parliament has been able to continue functioning without a hitch, even in a makeshift setting.
Much of this continuity is due to the steady competence of Alexis Wintoniak, 52. The essence of his duties, he said, is “to provide the foundation for the deputies, who are elected by the people, to have the optimal conditions and basis for their work – which is to make the laws and to make decisions for our entire society.”
It is not only ensuring the smooth transition to a new administration that complicates this assignment. Wintoniak must ensure that both the transitional and renovated premises will accommodate the demands of an operation that needs to be fully functional 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“With the rise of information technology in the past 20 to 30 years, work processes have become much faster,” he said, “particularly in politics, which is based on communication and the exchange of information.”
But such challenges are welcomed, and the deputy general secretary not only exudes a sense of calm and control in his job, but also a deep reverence for the institution that he is a part of.
What ever the public thinks, Wintoniak gets “to see on a daily basis how hard our politicians and parliamentarians work for the mandate they have been given.
“It is our duty,” he says, “to pay respect to this huge effort by providing the best possible infrastructure to facilitate their work.”