Austria’s Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has been filmed appearing to offer government contracts in exchange for political favours. The video, shot secretly in the run up to Austria’s election in 2017, shows Strache speaking to a woman who claims to be a Russian investor. It is unclear who set up the meeting and who filmed it.
Reacting to the revelations, the co-leading candidate of the European Green Party, Bas Eickhout said:
“The Strache revelations of apparent attempts at the highest level of corruption and collusion with Russian investors exposes once again just how dangerous it is to enter coalition with the far-right. While in their campaign rhetoric populists are claiming to be working in the defence of the nation, the far-right mask is starting to slip and underneath it is clear that the prime focus for this type of party is personal enrichment and capturing power by whatever means. Free media and public services are shamelessly sacrificed to this end.”
“The EU can no longer be naive about the dark forces seeking to undermine civil liberties and must strike back to make sure this is exposed and rooted out. The Kurz government has been delegitimised and the ÖVP should end its cooperation with the far-right – it’s time for new Austrian elections. On a European level, the European People’s Party of Manfred Weber must now acknowledge that it was mistaken to admit extremist elements into its fold and fully denounce this corruption. It is time to end all the conservative forms of cooperation with right populists and stand up in defence of democracy,” concluded Eickhout.
In Vienna, the Austrian greens are protesting alongside thousands of others on Ballhausplatz, demanding to protect democracy and for the president to call new elections. The leading candidate of the Austrian Greens Die Grünen, Werner Kogler reacted on Austrian TV Puls 4, stating:
“If Sebastian Kurz continues with this government, he must then take responsibility for the damage he is causing to the Austrian Republic. The FPÖ is a swamp of corruption and will not change its colours. We demand new elections!”