Government contracts for election campaign assistance
:Secret video charged Austria’s Vice Chancellor
Austria’s right-wing conservative government is threatening its most severe test to date. According to “Spiegel” and “Sddeutsche Zeitung”, Vice-Chancellor and FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache should have been prepared to pay public contracts to an alleged Russian oligarch in return for campaign support before the 2017 National Council elections.
This emerged from secretly created video recordings that had been leaked to the two media. It can be seen how the round at a meeting on July 24, 2017 on the holiday island of Ibiza also the possibility of a takeover of the influential “Kronen Zeitung” by the woman, it says. The meeting was apparently a trap, according to the Sddeutsche.
Opposition Neos call for new elections in Austria
A reaction on the part of the conservative VP and chancellor Sebastian Kurz initially remained. The Austrian People’s Party (VP) and the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FP) form a coalition since December 2017. At the time of the meeting, the alliance of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SP) and the VP was just broken.
Over the past few months, there have always been disagreements between the government partners, most recently about the relationship of the FP to xenophobic identities. Neither spokespersons of the FP nor the VP were available on dpa-request for an opinion on the report.
The opposition Neos called for new elections. “This is unbeliveable. That’s the most corrosive and disgusting thing I’ve seen, “said Neos boss Beate Meinl-Reisinger the German Press Agency. Strache had to resign, the FP was not sustainable.
Austria’s Social Democrats want Strache’s resignation
The Social Democrats demanded an immediate resignation of Vice Chancellor Strache. “It’s time to put an end to this haunting. For Federal Chancellor Kurz, there is only one way: the transition to the Federal President, “said the party leader, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, according to Austrian news agency APA. “The video shows everything, says everything and lets you look deeply. The road to illiberal democracy – for some apparently synonymous with kleptocracy – was long planned. “
The video shows Strache and the well-Russian-speaking FP leader Johann Gudenus talking to a woman about the possibilities of influencing the upcoming election campaign. The “Kronen Zeitung”, Austria’s highest-circulation sheet, could – according to Strache – take sides in the event of a takeover shortly before the election in favor of the FP party. Strache said that the FP could not count on 27 but 34 percent. In return for the support, for example, the awarding of public contracts to be founded construction companies of the oligarch is conceivable.
Strache admitted meeting with alleged oligarch
The woman pretended to be the niece of a Russian oligarch and said she wanted to invest a quarter of a billion euros in Austria, reported the “Spiegel”. She has repeatedly suggested that this could be black money. Nevertheless, Strache and today’s FP politician Johann Gudenus had sat for six hours at the meeting and had discussed investment opportunities in Austria.
Strache had in the course of the meeting, which documented the recordings, the woman also state gambling licenses in prospect, so the “South Germans”. It had not come to a specific agreement until the end of the meeting, the FP side but had promised a concession.
Strache and Gudenus acknowledged the meeting with the two media. It was “a purely private” meeting in a “relaxed, informal and humid holiday atmosphere”, said Strache in writing. “The relevant legal provisions and the need to comply with the Austrian legal system was repeatedly pointed out by me in this conversation in all topics.” This also applies to “possibly provided for party donations or donations to charitable associations in accordance with the respective club statutes”. “By the way,” wrote Strache, “in addition to the fact that a lot of alcohol was served during the evening, there was also a high language barrier.” (AP)