With a change in the Chancellery, the ÖVP wants to end the affair of ex-Chancellor Kurz over bought opinion polls. But the opposition in parliament still has many unanswered questions.
A parliamentary committee of inquiry wants to scrutinize the alleged machinations of Austria’s conservative ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his team. The “ÖVP Corruption Investigation Committee” should ideally be set up in November, said representatives of the opposition in Vienna on Wednesday. So far, only the tip of the iceberg has become visible, said SPÖ MP Jan Krainer.
The parliamentarians want to know whether the former head of government has promoted his ascent with embellished surveys, there has been a post charter and how far influence has been exerted on investigations by the judiciary. With this, old allegations from the completed Ibiza investigation committee as well as new suspicions are brought up for discussion.
“The ÖVP intervened far more in the mechanisms of the state than was actually feared,” said the right-wing FPÖ MP Christian Hafenecker. It is about “that this system of power calculation has to come to an end,” said the liberal Neos MP Nikolaus Scherak.
The ÖVP reacted skeptically. “There are justified doubts as to whether there is really serious clarification in the U-Committee,” said the ÖVP parliamentarian Andreas Hanger. Since 2015, the parliamentary minority can also apply for a U-Committee. The approval of the ÖVP is therefore not necessary.
The public prosecutor’s office is investigating a total of ten suspects on suspicion of breach of trust, bribery and corruption. Kurz’s team is said to have organized the 35-year-old’s career through a collaboration with a media company that was also financed from taxpayers’ money. Kurz, who gave up his post as head of government on Saturday, and the media house deny the allegations.
According to the media, a pollster was arrested on Tuesday, who is said to play a central role in the affair of embellished polls. The Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) continued to keep a low profile and did not confirm the arrest with reference to the ongoing investigations and personal rights.
In principle, a suspect can be forcibly detained for up to 48 hours. The WKStA would have to file an application for pre-trial detention at the Vienna Regional Court for criminal matters by Thursday morning if it considers the further detention of the suspects to be inevitable.