Corruption Charges

German language media translated for TVR's Media Monitor

Speigel
Online

Austria’s Right-wing Populists in a Swamp of Corruption, 9 Aug.

by Julia Herrnböck

For the Austrian right-wing populist Heinz-Christian Strache, it’s been a [political] uphill race for a long time. However, the pressure is mounting for the FPÖ-boss because of the corruption scandals of his Carinthian party proponents. As a consequence, the 43-year-old may lose his chance for the Chancellery. […]

The corruption scandals are indeed a heavy blow for Strache […]: The [FPÖ’s] Carinthian chapter FPK is at its centre, alongside the Conservative ÖVP.

The electorate’s bill followed en suite, as recent polls suggest a dramatic loss of popular support for the FPK in Carinthia by 20%, down to 25% and 27%.

Also on the national level, the right-wing populist is feeling the downhill trend: A loss of 4% in the national polls – evidently an unfamiliar position for Strache. However, that’s all in the past now.

At present, one blow follows the other for Strache. One of the cases is Uwe Scheuch. The FPK-boss and Carinthian Vice-Governor was convicted in early July in con with a party donation scandal… And yet, he refused to resign at first, despite a seven-month suspended prison sentence and fine of €150,000.

On 1 Aug., he eventually stepped down, blaming the media for its “smear campaign”. However, the resignation of Haider’s political protégé was more likely a result of pressure exerted by Strache.

 

The Legacy of Lazy Ernst, 16 Aug.

by Benedikt Naradoslawsky

Last Thursday, [7. Aug], the Public Prosecutor for Corruption announced that [Ernst] Strasser would be indicted for charges of accepting bribes.

While it seemed that the Judiciary had put the brakes on the case, the 42-page indictment is nevertheless a success for the public prosecutor. Assisted by the Federal Agency for Prevention and Combatting Corruption, the investigators compiled 90 statements and performed house searches at 10 different locations.

The evidence collected is now in 25 boxes, as well as on hard drives with 1,000 gigabytes of data. It remains doubtful, however, whether it is sufficient material for a conviction.

Lobbying as such is not punishable. Nevertheless, the matter could get serious for Strasser if the alleged bribery took place in course of his official duties. At this stage, the principle of presumption of innocence still applies.

But this scandal had already wide-reaching effects: The Parliament has passed a transparency package, including a law regulating lobbying. Although experts criticised it as deficient, they see it as a substantial improvement.

Meanwhile, the ÖVP, which Strasser led at the 2009 EU elections, has passed a self-imposed Code of Conduct.

The Strasser-scandal not only brought about a political catharsis, it also demonstrated a well-functioning cooperation between the Judiciary and the EU. The Public Prosecution collected evidence in five different countries, supported by Eurojust.

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