By Saeed Sobhani 

Political scandal in the capital of European music!

May 21, 2019

TEHRAN - The recent political scandal in Austria has caused a lot of shock to the citizens of this country. The holding of an early election in Austria, shortly before the European Parliamentary elections, has a clear message for Europeans: that the extreme Right has a lot of political and social destruction in Europe!

What has just happened in Austria has raised questions about the political future of the European Union. In such a situation, people like the French President and German Chancellor are worried about the future of the eurozone and the European Union. This concern increases over time. The occurrence of a variety of security, political, economic and social crises has created many challenges in the European Union and the eurozone.

The emergence of these challenges has led to a sharp decline in the popularity of traditional parties in Europe. In such a way, nationalist parties have been able to increase their popularity with the public. Which side are the European Union and the eurozone really heading to? Will the future of Europe finally be clear these are the questions that concern the mentally ill, such as Merkel and Macron?

As The Economist reported, On May 18th Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of Austria’s hard-right Freedom Party (FP?), resigned as the country’s vice-chancellor after a stunning exposé published overnight by German media suggested that he had been prepared to manipulate the Austrian state to help his party’s fortunes. “Enough is enough,” declared Sebastian Kurz, the chancellor, a few hours later, calling time on the government and announcing an early general election.

During a boozy evening at a rented villa on the Spanish island in July 2017, three months before an Austrian general election, Mr. Strache and Johann Gudenus, an ally, met “Alyona Makarova”, a young woman who claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch, and a companion. Over champagne, sushi and copious amounts of Red Bull, Mr. Strache appears to have offered to help his interlocutor gain access to juicy state highway contracts once he joined the government. In exchange, Ms. Makarova would take a 50% stake in the Kronen Zeitung, a popular Austrian tabloid, and help reinvent it as an FP? mouthpiece. Such a turn, enthused Mr. Strache, could lift his party’s support from 27% to 34%. On several occasions during the conversation, Mr. Strache vowed not to do anything illegal. But seven hours of footage, some of which has been made public, find the FP? pair musing on the possibility of building a media landscape modeled on Hungary’s, thinking about ways to circumvent party-donation rules, and lamenting the West’s “decadence”—before decamping to a nightclub.

Also, BBC reported that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called a snap election following the collapse of his coalition government over a corruption scandal. The move came after Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned after secret footage emerged showing him talking to an alleged Russian investor.as mentioned, Mr. Kurz's center-right People's Party has been in government with Mr. Strache's far-right Freedom Party. Austria's president recommended that elections should be held in September.

"This new beginning should take place quickly, as quickly as the provisions of the Federal Constitution permit, so I plead for elections... in September," President Alexander van der Bellen said on Sunday.

On Saturday Mr. Kurz said this was not the first time he had had difficulties with the party."Even if I didn't express myself publicly at the time, there were many situations that I found difficult to swallow," he said. "After yesterday's video, I must say quite honestly: Enough is enough."The serious part of this [video] was the attitude towards abuse of power, towards dealing with taxpayers' money, towards the media in this country," Mr. Kurz said, adding that he had been personally insulted in the footage.

The Freedom Party is one of Europe's best-established populist, nationalist parties. But while it is skilled in opposition, frequently gaining over 20% of the vote, its record is much more patchy when it comes to staying in power. In 2002, early elections had to be called when its coalition with the conservatives fell apart. In 2005, the party split over internal disagreements.

Other European populist parties will be watching the Freedom Party's next steps closely. This scandal, which comes just a week before the EU elections, is likely to be a blow to attempts by Italy's Matteo Salvini to forge an alliance of nationalist European parties. The Freedom Party, once seen as an example to be emulated, could now serve as a warning.

Austrian chancellor defends coalition with Freedom Party!

As Politico reported, Austria’s disgraced ex-Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache could face criminal prosecution in connection with statements he made in a secretly taped video that led to his resignation, according to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.“There could be criminal liability,” Kurz told the German daily Bild in an interview published Sunday. “The investigations will determine what happens next.”

Kurz withdrew from the governing coalition with Strache's far-right Freedom Party in the wake of the video’s release, triggering new elections in September. In the video, Strache discusses how his conversation partner — a woman he believes to be the wealthy niece of a Russian oligarch — could secretly funnel money to his campaign. The footage was recorded in 2017, a few months before the election that vaulted Strache into power alongside Kurz’s People’s Party. He tells the woman she should set up a nonprofit organization as a conduit for the funds, a strategy he says other wealthy donors have used to help his party. In the interview, Kurz said he had no choice but to end the coalition, given the gravity of Strache’s comments. In the video, Strache also offered to help the woman score lucrative public contracts in exchange for financial support and other favors.

The video appears to have been part of an elaborate sting by unknown individuals, but no deals followed. Nonetheless, Strache’s apparent eagerness to circumvent the law opens the door for prosecutors to explore his other dealings, in particular, the possibility that he and his party received secret donations.

Kurz defended his decision to enter into a coalition with the Freedom Party in the first place, despite their long track record as a volatile, racist force. He said that during the 17 months the government lasted, it had managed to balance the budget and push through important reforms, including a tax overhaul.

“In order to pursue our agenda and bring about change, I had to be willing to endure quite a lot,” he said, a reference to a string of provocations by officials in the far-right party, including attacks on the media and the use of extremist rhetoric. Kurz said he had no doubt that the scandal would damage Austria’s reputation abroad. But he suggested the more lasting impact would be elsewhere.“The Freedom Party has destroyed itself,” he said.

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