There is more laughter in Austria – at least during the screening of the documentary “Behind the Headlines”, which has just opened in cinemas in Austria and Germany at the same time. The issue of corruption, which is at its core, is quite serious.
Daniel Sager’s film shows how that Research on the Ibiza video and the weighing processes in the editorial team of the Southgerman newspaper expired before the Ibiza video was released in May 2019. (Read here A detailed film review by Fritz Göttler.) The consequences are well known: Resignation of the then Vice Chancellor and FPÖ chef Heinz-Christian Strache, new elections, a turquoise-green federal government.
But the research triggered a lot more – such as the so-called expense affair. Strache is said to have billed bills of up to 600,000 euros for cleaning women in his house, the maintenance pools, parking tickets, care costs for his children and much more through the FPÖ. In this case, the investigation is still ongoing; In another case there was a recent judgment, which Strache has appealed. The former Vice Chancellor received 15 months probation for corruption because he used the court in accordance with his offices to provide advantages for a private clinic. More about it here.
Compromising chats that prove post haggling
At the political level, the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the “possible marketability of the Turkish-Blue government” revealed quite a bit – especially with the ÖVP, which agreed to the convening of the supervisory body in the expectation that it would primarily be about FPÖ scandals. So it got there compromising chats between Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Finance Minister Gernot Blümel and the high-ranking official Thomas Schmid in public, the Postenschacher prove. Further news between the former ÖVP Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter and the high-ranking official Christian Pilnacek published interventions in the justice system and racist attitudes.
In response, there were unprecedented attacks by the Federal Chancellor and high-ranking ÖVP politicians on the corruption prosecutor and thus on the rule of law (read page three here “Viennese Carnage” by Cathrin Kahlweit, SZ Plus). Before the summer break, the end of the committee of inquiry was sealed – with the votes of the Green coalition partner.
A particularly bitter war ended for the Green MP Nina Tomaselli, who had made a name for herself in the investigative committee as an educator. Like the SPÖ MP Jan Krainer, the vice-party leader of the Greens visited one of the Screenings of “Behind the Headlines” in Vienna. The SPÖ politician announced that he would reinstate the committee of inquiry next year – with the help of minority rights in parliament, which the Greens had won at the time.
What has become of the Greens? In order to stay in power, they have damaged their reputation as a party to which control and education are important.
The initiators of the popular initiative against corruption also aim to ensure that the wishes of the ÖVP and FPÖ to finally tick off the tiresome issue of corruption will not come true. It is above all personalities from the bourgeois camp who are dying to collect signatures these days: for example, the former ÖVP justice spokesman Michael Ikrath, the former “Ibiza” prosecutor Christina Jilek, who resigned out of frustration, and the well-known lawyers Heinz Mayer and Oliver Scheiber. Neos members such as the former highest judge Irmgard Griss and Heide Schmidt, formerly the third President of the National Council and party leader of the Liberal Forum, are also involved.
The windfall of politics does not lead to the establishment of investigative research teams
In the Austrian media, however, the issue of corruption has completely disappeared after the summer break. There is also no longer any talk of chat logs. As with public broadcasters in Germany, such as the WDR or NDR, a well-staffed investigative editorial team should also be a matter of course for the country’s largest media company, ORF, with a turnover of one billion euros. die Kronen newspaper could also afford costly research.
But – we are in Austria: Such research could be against the government. And about the leadership of the ORF haggled politically, public service broadcasting is in the stranglehold of the parties. Perhaps journalistic educational work is not even desired?
The public authorities spent around 60 million euros in advertising in the media in the quarter of 2021 – the majority went to the tabloid media. Of these, around 6.5 million died Kronen newspaper, 3.9 million to those with the Crown family-related free newspaper today and 3.3 million to the media group Austria. One could not have this lavish form of press funding, as there are opportunities in Germany to let the reporting turn out to be too critical.
In any case, the generous financial blessing did not lead to the establishment of investigative research teams in Austria
The answer to why the media are so important for politics in Austria was provided by Strache in the Ibiza video using the example of Kronen newspaper: “If the medium pushes us two or three weeks before the election, then we don’t make 27, then we do 34 percent.”