What the ÖVP and Falter Are Fighting About

Last week, the weekly newspaper Falter published a report stating that the ÖVP is heavily indebted – now they’re seeking an injunction from the court.

The left-liberal Falter published a story about the Conservative Party (ÖVP) and its internal spending. Among expenses that the Falter listed are:

– €160,000 for the ÖVP summer party in June 2018
– a Christmas reception with chestnuts and punch for €70,000
– €60,000 for festivities in the restaurants Sebastian Kurz’s friend, Martin Ho
– Haircut for Sebastian Kurz for €600

In total, the party owes banks around €18.5 million and has a negative equity of €21.5 million.

“(This is what €600 feel like…)”

The first online reactions quickly followed. Users criticized Kurz and accused him of hypocrisy. For example: He flew from Klagenfurt to Rome in a private jet for €7,700 but then posted a photo from his commercial, economy-class return flight to show how “down to earth” he was.

It’s not uncommon for parties to accumulate debt – the Green party, for instance, famously had to scramble to cover its expenses after they were voted out of the National Assembly during the last election, thus losing the lion’s share of state-paid party subsidies. The Falter has been criticized by others for “only” looking at the finances of the ÖVP – and not those of the other parties as well.

The ÖVP also claimed that there had been a large-scale hacker attack in which internal party data had been stolen and partly manipulated, which they believed was the basis of the Falter report. The Falter denies this, saying they have a different informant and that they have solid evidence for their claims.

On 16 September, the Falter was informed that the ÖVP had filed for an injunction; they now have four weeks to respond. The ÖVP says that the Falter must omit three assertions: The allegation that the ÖVP is deliberately planning to exceed the seven-million euro limit for election campaign expenses this year, that the ÖVP is deliberately deceiving the public about its election campaign expenses, and that the ÖVP wants to conceal election campaign overspending from the Court of Audit.

However, the accusation repeatedly made by top officials of the ÖVP that the Falter had used manipulated data is not raised at all.

Statement by Falter editor in chief Florian Klenk (in German)

(Foto: Screenshot facebook/falter)

 

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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