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Foglar defends 'corrupt' politicians

Federal Trade Union (ÖGB) President Erich Foglar has claimed Austria’s politics are "much better than their reputation".

Foglar said in a platform discussion in Vienna, which was aired by radio Ö1 on Wednesday evening, that domestic lawmakers were generally much better than their public image. However, the ÖGB boss also called for a "new spirit".

In what could be seen as an attempt to defend Austrian politicians from the accusation that all of them are corrupt, Foglar pointed out that the media kept a close eye on all kinds of possibly illicit decision-making procedures in politics. He also underlined that the public often gave a very harsh verdict when claims about corruption between companies and politicians emerged.

Foglar stressed that procedures which most people considered as unacceptable which were common among bankers were disclosed only a few years ago when the global crisis broke out and public and media tried to find out why some of the world’s biggest banks collapsed.

Public opinion group Karmasin recently found that nearly four in 10 Austrians believed that all of their home country’s established political parties were "equally corrupt". Research by non-government organisation (NGO) Transparency International (TI) showed that 49 per cent of Austrians feared a further increase of corruption in Austria.

A parliamentary commission is currently investigating some of the most controversial cases of alleged corruption of the past years. Former and active politicians are accused of cooperating with lobbyists by illegally subsidising their parties. Some of them are also suspected of pocketing considerable sums as part of the illicit procedures. State prosecutors are looking into several more cases of suspected abuse of office, fraud and embezzlement involving prominent politicians and lobbyists at the moment.

People’s Party (ÖVP) Justice Minister Beatrix Karl said earlier this week she planned to change bylaws to help state prosecutors in focusing on examining the major cases. Juridical officials feel increasing pressure by media and the public over an alleged lack of progress in finalising charges against VIP suspects. While judges and state prosecutors complain about workforce levels that are too low, political decision-makers realise that the current situation could harm their general image as well.

Karl told several newspapers at the beginning of this week that Austrian employees and low-ranking managers would soon be allowed to opt for fines. She explained that this would spare them a trial and enable prosecutors to concentrate on more serious cases of fraud and corruption. Papers claimed that the government planned to create this option for teachers who revealed exam questions to students beforehand for cash and civil servants who helped relatives and friends to privileged treatment by public institutions.

Social Democratic (SPÖ) juridical issues spokesman Hannes Jarolim announced on Wednesday that the draft bill would not be presented in parliament as planned by Karl. ÖVP leaders confirmed that the justice minister’s concept had been rejected. Jarolim criticised Karl for failing to hold talks with SPÖ members concerning the change of laws she planned but gave interviews about her project instead.

Columnists and political commentators considered the occurrences as a humiliating defeat for the justice minister who is doing comparably well in public opinion polls while juridical experts warned that such a reform would send the wrong signals to the people in times of an apparent increase of corruption among the country’s elite.

Vienna Times

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Tag cloud:
Austria  Juridical  corrupt  planned  Foglar  fraud  Karl  Justice  Ouml  rsquo  considered  media  defends  Minister  Jarolim  suspected  prosecutors  illicit  government  politicians

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