Cronyism in Austria

Transcripts of text messages published by the media show how a close confidant of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was given the top post at the major Austrian state holding company Öbag. The messages give insights into the cronyism in Austria's political landscape. Commentators call for consequences.

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Kurier (AT) /

Stop the dishonesty

Politicians should regulate the allocation of important posts in a transparent way, Kurier insists:

“Parties always justify such moves by saying that they need people they can trust in key positions, otherwise it would be difficult to govern. If that's really the case, then at least they should stop being dishonest about it. The pseudo tenders and commissions - after these text messages no one believes a word they say anyway. ... Why not lay out guidelines defining for which posts political appointments make sense? In that case, however, the appointment should end when the government's mandate ends, like in the US. Conversely, one could also define posts which the parties are not allowed to meddle with: supreme court judges, other judges and prosecutors, top-level administrative posts, police officers, teachers. Managers of state-owned companies.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Goody two shoes image in tatters

If there are no political consequences it will be up to voters to punish the government's corrupt behaviour at the ballot, says Der Standard:

“The chats show in black and white what goes on in Austria. ... Now the new, clean style of the Kurz-ÖVP government has once and for all been exposed as a marketing gag. Cronyism is apparently wired into their political DNA too. ... Now there is proof. And that must have consequences. If there are no consequences, a dangerous precedent will be set for future corrupt politicians. It's hard to write laws against cronyism. It is above all critical media and well-informed citizens who can fight against this on election day.”