The pro-capitalism, socially-left NEOS, currently in the opposition, insisted that political life cannot return to business as usual, and demanded an end to corruption in job appointments to political posts. “It is unacceptable that positions are only filled ‘within the family,'” said the party´s general secretary Douglas Hoyos on Thursday. He said the Austrian expression “Freunderlwirtschaft” (which translates roughly to “friends’ economy”) plays down the gravity of what amounts to “systemic corruption”.
The NEOS want to push back against the ” turquoise power cartel,” he said. (For those newer to Austria, the governing Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) was previously known by the color black, but switched to turquoise under the leadership of former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.)
Aside from former ÖBAG head Thomas Schmid, Hoyos mentioned other cases of highly sought-after job posts that were allegedly filled by appointment behind closed doors, a reference to the contents of chat transcripts made public in June of this year.
The “turquoise” system, where getting hired is “only about who you know and not what you can do,” was still in place, even though Kurz had stepped down as chancellor. The system is “degenerate” and “completely corrupt,” concluded Hoyos.
The NEOS specifically called for full transparency in all future personnel recruitment processes, from public hearings to publishing contracts to hiring external consultants. In addition, the party’s revenue and expenditures needed to be made public, including every single donation made to the ÖVP, said the NEOS. Under the slogan “career without close contacts (Karriere ohne Kennen),” they called for promotions within the ministries to be made according to qualifications, said the opposition party.
The ÖVP has come under fire from several sides recently. Most recently, Kurz and associates were accused of buying and altering surveys to skew public opinion in their favour, allowing themselves to be bribed by tabloid media, and overspending on election campaign costs and then willfully concealing it. Chats between Kurz and some of his closest colleagues, leaked to the press, further tarnished the image of the former chancellor. Amid the firestorm, Kurz recently stepped down and was replaced by Alexander Schallenberg.
Reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.