14 Oct. 2021 19:51
After the resignation of the Austrian Chancellor Kurz, according to a report in the Wiener Zeitung, he is threatened with lengthy criminal proceedings with an open outcome. Meanwhile, his successor Schallenberg continues to stand by him, while reports are starting to withdraw from Kurz in the ÖVP.
The new Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) defends his statements that the criminal charges against his predecessor Sebastian Kurz are false. He did not want to apologize for this, said the newspaper The standard on Wednesday statements by Schallenberg from several interviews. The allegations against Kurz would vanish into thin air, said Schallenberg in his inaugural address on Tuesday. He continued to explain to the broadcaster ORFthat he wanted to continue the course of his predecessor, who overturned an affair over ÖVP advertisements financed with taxpayers’ money. The existing government program remains the basis for Schallenberg’s work in migration and labor market as well as corona policy.
The 35-year-old Kurz resigned as Chancellor on October 9 “out of responsibility for the country”. According to reports, the occasion was an investigation by the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) against him in the so-called “advertisement affair”. As a result, he came under increasing pressure.
As a coalition partner of the ÖVP, the Greens had already turned against him. The Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler appointed by them had recently described Kurz as “unfit for office” and given him an ultimatum: resignation or a vote of no confidence by all other parties at a special session of the National Council, the Austrian Parliament. The Chancellor anticipated this with his resignation, who will in future take on the role of “club chairman” (parliamentary group leader) of the ÖVP in the National Council.
Follow the “Ibiza video”
Kurz got loud Wiener Zeitung through chats of his confidante Thomas Schmid on online platforms in the sights of the investigators. They were actually looking for traces of the scandal surrounding the so-called Ibiza video of the former FPÖ boss and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache. According to the newspaper, Schmid increasingly came into focus.
“I am one of your Praetorians who does not cause problems, but solves them,” he wrote to Kurz. The chats, as “chance discoveries”, led to ever new strands of investigation, including drug investigations against Schmid. For the now ex-Chancellor, it then became threatening that some of his confidants apparently started illegally financing opinion polls in favor of the government with taxpayers’ money from 2016.
It was loud for that Wiener Zeitung Bought courtesy reporting of the Fellner Group with advertisements. Wolfgang Fellner is the editor of the daily newspaper Austria and chairman of the associated media group (Oe24.at, television channel Oe24.tv and Radio Austria).
Kurz was Austrian Foreign Minister from 2014 to 2017 and then became Federal Chancellor at the age of 31, after he had previously “radically rebuilt” the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), according to reports. After the new election in 2017, there was a “turquoise-green” coalition between the ÖVP and the Austrian Greens.
Investigations into breach of trust and corruption
The ex-Chancellor is now being investigated for infidelity and corruption, like that Wiener Zeitung wrote on Tuesday. According to this, Kurz is a so-called determined perpetrator. In Austrian law, this describes incitement to a crime. “According to the WKStA, Kurz instigated the then general secretary in the finance department, Thomas Schmid, to buy embellished surveys for him with taxpayers’ money,” the newspaper said. “As part of a deal with the Fellner media group, these should be in the newspaper Austria have been published. In return for this and a generally benevolent reporting to Kurz, advertisements worth 800,000 euros are said to have been placed in the newspaper by the finance department. “
Kurz denies the allegations against him. The criminal lawyer Klaus Schwaighofer from the University of Innsbruck is calculating aloud Wiener Zeitung with a longer duration of proceedings. A quick legal clarification is not to be expected.
“The investigations will hover over the ÖVP boss for longer. It will be clear in the course of 2022 at the earliest whether Kurz will be charged with the advertising affair or the investigations will be discontinued, defense lawyers told the APA news agency.”
Schwaighofer also stated that Kurz could not submit an application to discontinue the proceedings at the earliest six months after the start of the investigation. The criminal lawyer is quoted as saying that such an application is “only rarely successful”. This would tend to delay the process due to the various steps required.
First arrest and withdrawal movement
“You can really speed up an investigation only if you make a confession. At most, if you are cooperative and do not exhaust all legal remedies against every measure,” explained Schwaighofer Wiener Zeitung. But that is not in prospect, as Kurz denies all allegations.
According to reports, in the course of the investigation, an opinion pollster who was allegedly involved in the proceedings was arrested in 2016 for “risk of blackout”. The Fellner brothers, however, denied all allegations. Criminal lawyer Schwaighofer does not expect a leniency program in which an accused reveals his knowledge and thus supports the investigators.
The lawyer told the newspaper that the allegations of corruption are being investigated as well as the question of whether surveys have actually been manipulated for Kurz. The details of the process would first have to be examined to clarify whether the allegation of infidelity is justified. According to Schwaighofer, this also includes the question of whether the advertisements were paid at too high a price and whether the Ministry of Finance was entitled to do so.
Observers like the Viennese political scientist Heinz Gärtner do not see Kurz’s political career at the end. In contrast, the reports Wiener Zeitung on Thursday of withdrawal movements within the ÖVP against the ex-Chancellor:
“The old, black people’s party, especially in the federal states, has begun to isolate Kurz and his closest environment on the front stage.”
A further clinging to the young former chancellor could have a negative effect on the restart of the ÖVP, the newspaper analyzes. “I think it is out of the question that Kurz will be the next top candidate in a new election,” an ÖVP member was quoted as saying. The “leave of absence” of the previous short press spokesman Johannes Frischmann and the media officer Gerald Fleischmann are the first steps towards a “restart” of the party, according to the newspaper.
more on the subject – Election interference from Austria: Chancellor Kurz warns of red-green-red coalition in Germany