Over the last ten days, the Nationalrat (National Council) has been busy passing some long-awaited and broadly popular measures, including one affecting the way political parties receive donations, the so called Parteienförderung.

From now on, no donor may contribute more than €7,500 to a single party and each party can only receive a maximum of €750,000 per year. Also, in the future, all donations of €2,500 and more will have to be reported to the Rechnungshof (Court of Audit). Previously, this only applied for donations of over €50,000. However, the Rechnungshof will not get a complete insight into the party finances, as criticized by Georg Krakow from Transparency International on ORF evening news program ZIB2.  “Every company must be audited and fully disclose itself to the auditors,” he said. “That is what the parties have decided. It is only they themselves who are exempted. We believe that this requirement, too, is urgently necessary.“

SPÖ, FPÖ and JETZT voted for the reform. The ÖVP and the NEOS opposed it. During the Parliamentary debate, tensions escalated when Jörg Leichtfried (SPÖ) spoke of the dangers of bribery from major donors. It should not be more important to “be rich than to vote,” he told the members, which he said was the impression created by the ÖVP. That statement angered National Council President Sobotka (ÖVP). Photos and videos show him looking flushed, screaming and pointing angrily at Leichtfried. The material is currently being used for GIFs and memes all over the social networks.

The reevaluation of the rules for party finances had been triggered by the “Ibiza scandal” in which the head of the Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, made suggestions to an alleged Russian oligarch on how to donate to the FPÖ while bypassing the Court of Audit.

 

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