Opposition calls for ÖVP to make repayments


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The former Chancellor Kurz was associated with a squirrel by those surveyed © Georg Hochmuth / dpa

The opposition in Austria is demanding the repayment of 156,000 euros to the state from the ruling ÖVP because of controversial popularity studies on politicians.

Vienna – The opposition in Austria is demanding the repayment of 156,000 euros to the state from the ruling ÖVP because of controversial popularity studies on politicians. The conservative chancellor party used funds from the Ministry of Finance for their self-portrayal and for party propaganda, criticized SPÖ managing director Christian Deutsch on Thursday in Vienna.

The studies that have now been published by the Ministry of Finance obviously served the electoral victory of the People’s Party, said the general secretary of the liberal Neos, Douglas Hoyos. “If the ÖVP wants to know whether Sebastian Kurz is a sweet squirrel or rather a sneaky peacock, then the ÖVP should also pay for it.” The Finanzprokuratur, the legal representation of the federal government, now wants to examine any claims by the state.

In 2017, the Ministry of Finance commissioned various studies from an opinion research institute under the title “Economic and budgetary policy including extensions”. In the data supplied, animals and their characteristics were assigned to some top politicians, among other things.

Respondents associated Kurz, who became chancellor at the end of 2017, with “smart, determined animals” such as dolphins, badgers and squirrels. He was also identified as a peacock – he “is insidious, wants to take over everything, will stop at nothing,” according to the documents. Ex-FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache was associated with animals that, like snakes, are considered insidious and dangerous.

The studies are at the center of the investigations by the public prosecutor’s office, which led to the resignation of Chancellor Kurz, Finance Minister Gernot Blümel and some employees. The judiciary is investigating on the suspicion that Kurz’s confidants may have supported his political rise through manipulated surveys and paid for them from the Ministry of Finance.

The parliamentary ÖVP corruption investigation committee is also investigating the question of possible abuse of power. In the first round of questions on March 2nd, the designated ÖVP boss and Chancellor Karl Nehammer is to comment on the allegations. (dpa)


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