- In Austria, investigators inspected the Chancellery, parts of the Finance Ministry and the headquarters of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP).
- This was confirmed by the prosecutor. It is investigating Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and nine other suspects on suspicion of dishonesty and bribery.
- This appears to be the beginning of a government crisis.
According to one Media statement issued by the Attorney General’s Office for Economics and Corruption (WKSTA) The searches relate to payments allegedly made for fake surveys “published in the editorial department of an Austrian daily and other media belonging to this group”.
Suspicions are being investigated that between 2016 and at least 2018, funds from the Ministry of Finance were used to fund politically motivated and sometimes manipulated polls by the Opinion Research Institute.
ÖVP and Kurz . deny
According to the authority, it remains suspected that government officials in return made payments to the media company as part of media and advertising cooperation. According to WKSTA, evidence seized during a home search will now be shown and assessed. According to the newspaper, “Der Standard”, it is an advertising and media cooperation agreement amounting to 1.3 million euros.
Kurz sees ‘constructive allegations’
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz dismissed the prosecutor’s corruption suspicion against him. “I am convinced that these allegations will soon turn out to be false,” the conservative politician (ÖVP) told ORF radio late this afternoon.
Cortes has already been targeted by the Prosecutor’s Office – due to a possible false statement in the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry “Ibiza”.
“This time too, there are artificial claims, again with the same system,” Curtis continues. Investigators are accused of taking chat messages out of context or misrepresentation. “And then a criminal charge is created around him.”
The ÖVP party and the media company vehemently denied the allegations. “At no time was there an agreement between the Austrian media group and the Ministry of Finance regarding the payment of surveys through advertisements,” the media group declared.
Voters’ Union Deputy Secretary-General Gabriela Schwartz spoke out in a tip-off about the false accusations: “It always happens with the same goal and order: to inflict serious damage on the People’s Party and Sebastian Kurz.” The investigators are apparently all about “showing the effect”.
The government crisis seems inevitable
The government crisis now seems almost inevitable. The Green Party, as the ÖVP’s partner in the coalition since January 2020, has always emphasized that only “clean politics” can be done with them. The alliance of the ÖVP and the Green Party has recently been repeatedly burdened by the ÖVP’s allegations against the judiciary. Vice-Chancellor and Green Party leader Werner Kogler stated that “attacks on the judiciary as a whole must be rejected”.
The editor-in-chief of “Falter” magazine, Florian Klink, wrote on Twitter: “After a first quick reading of the house search warrant and the chats contained in it, one can say with confidence: This is no longer possible with an alliance between the ÖVP and the Greens. Game over.”
The opposition sees confirmation of suspicion of corruption
The opposition sees the investigation as confirmation of the suspicion of corruption in the environment of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. “For Kurts and the Turquoise family, it comes close,” SPÖ commented, referring to ÖVP’s party color. “The turquoise card house is falling apart with the collapse,” says Christian Deutsch, SPÖ’s federal general manager.
According to the right-wing FPÖ, “the turquoise leadership of the ÖVP has increasingly transformed into a criminal organization in recent years.”
The ÖVP is primarily concerned with power, and the Secretary General of the Liberal Neuss, Douglas Hoyos, has been criticized. He called on the chancellor’s party to help clarify the reputation of the judiciary rather than damage it.
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