Austria's conservatives mired in phone chat scandal
After the resignation of Sebastian Kurz, the ruling conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) has now been rocked by another scandal. Messages from mobile phone chats of former Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka that have now become public show that he interfered with the allocation of key posts in the police force. Sobotka, who is currently president of the National Council, wants to head a committee of inquiry into allegations of corruption against his own party. Commentators call for reform.
Doesn't anyone want to play fair any more?
The Salzburger Nachrichten says this public exploitation of informal party agreements is destroying trust in politics:
“Have the parties stopped thinking about the country and the future in the heat of their trench warfare? Austrian politics is starting to look more and more like a football match in which the teams no longer want to kick the ball but the shins of their opponents out of sheer hatred. And with such ferocity that the opponent has to be carried off the pitch. Who wants to watch something like that? And where is the referee who can blow the whistle on this madness?”
Time for a reset
Der Standard columnist Hans Rauscher also calls for reason to prevail:
“Austria urgently needs a political reset. ... There are a number of legal measures to achieve this, all of which have their merits: stricter anti-corruption guidelines, new penal laws on corruption; the abolition of official secrecy, a new law on party financing, effective monitoring of party finances, a freedom of information law. But the big reset has to come from elsewhere. A change of mentality, a new mindset is needed in politics. The ÖVP needs this most urgently. It selects the chancellor and governs most of the country's provinces.”