A thread for non-UK european Politics.
Yesterday a bombshell exploded here for my home country of austria. German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and german magazine Der Spiegel published a video of a setup in which austrian vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party was discussing an actress posing as a niece of a russian Oligarch how to influence the austrian elections in 2017. The video was recorded on Ibiza prior to the elections, and in it Strache among other things is suggesting to award government contracts to certain companies under russian influence as rewards for donations channeled through third party organizations, and also is very receptive to a suggested plan of the supposed russian agent for russian infuences to buy major stakes in one of Austria’s largest tabloids, Krone Zeitung, and using it to influence the elections toward his party. In the video Strache yearns for control of the media similar to Orban’s influence in Hungary.
The 2017 elections were won primarily by the center-right People’s Party, but they needed to step into a coalition with Strache’s Freedom Party. As a result of the above video, Strache has resigned as both Vice-chancellor and leader of the Freedom Party. Chancellor Kurz (People’s Party) also promised new elections. Strache for his part, has blamed drunkenness, protested that he didn’t do anything actually illegal as a result of the conversation, and promised legal retaliation against the videos publication. He also questioned the political aspect of the publication of the video, as next weekend there are European parliament, suggesting that the timing of the release was explicitly done to harm the chances of his party and his affiliates. He characterized it (insanely I might add) as a “political assassination”.
Another high-ranking Freedom Party official named Johann Gudenus was also present in the video. He has also resigned from his duties.
Update: Basically all ministers that are members of the corrupt Freedom Party have been relieved of their duties, mostly by withdrawing due to the situation. One of them, minister of the interior Herbert Kickl, was however explicitly fired by the chancellor, due to Kickl inserting a close political ally for a post after the news broke. The president has refused to honor that nomination. Unfortunately this did not stop Kickl from pushing through a reduction of wages for asylum seekers right before leaving office. What an asshole.
Elections are forthcoming, though no date has been set yet.
I really enjoyed that video on the EU. Not specifically because it’s a high production value and well researched video-essay but because it’s bee translated into so many EU languages, including Italian
Watching them back to back is significantly less laborious than reading my Italian copy of the fifth harry potter book that I nabbed in the airport in Milan.