Austrians want crystal-clear political funding

Full transparency regarding the subsidisation of parties has been identified as the most urgent issue in fighting corruption in a poll.

Viennese research centre Karmasin spoke with 500 Austrians for magazine profil. The agency made several suggestions to the interviewed voters about how to fight political corruption. The people the agency spoke with were allowed to pick several of the given options.

With 64 per cent, most of them called for total transparency concerning how parties financed their election campaigns and administrative procedures. The federal parliament’s three opposition parties – the Freedom Party (FPÖ), the Greens and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) – have been applying pressure on the government to get active in this regard for some time.

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann promised that a team assigned by the government to present a draft bill would do so before summer. People’s Party (ÖVP) Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger admitted that more engagement was needed in creating more transparency as far as party’s financial issues were regarded.

Green Party parliament member (MP) Peter Pilz said he would hold a referendum on the issue if the SPÖ-ÖVP breaks its promise. Pilz also calls for more protection for whistleblowers informing juridical officials and the police about bribery and fraud at public institutions and private companies.

A study by research agency OGM showed last month that nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of Austrians are of the opinion that the parties and all of their associated organisations such as academies and regional branches must inform in full detail about donations of 7,000 Euros and more. Just nine per cent of Austrians interviewed by OGM said such an amendment would be too strict.

The new Karmasin poll for weekly magazine profil reveals that 63 per cent of Austrians think that politicians should face tougher punishment for illegal actions like fraud and abuse of office. Sixty-one per cent call for a more stringent anti-corruption law affecting businesspeople and lawmakers while only 38 per cent show support for a code of conduct for politicians. Spindelegger recently disclosed that he assigned a team of respected personalities – including former National Bank (OeNB) Maria Schaumayer – to create a code of conduct for ÖVP members. SPÖ Traffic Minister Doris Bures reacted to the news by claiming that politicians should be well aware of how to behave and act anyway.

A recent survey carried out by OGM shows that 75 per cent of Austrians have “no or barely any trust” in politicians. The poll also reveals that most people’s trust in the country’s political elite has suffered in the past five years due to an apparent increase of corruption, a lack of reasonable reforms and ongoing feuds between the parties’ leaders.

Only 21 per cent of Austrians told Karmasin that politicians must not accept any kind of invitations any longer. Speaking to the research group for its study for this week’s profil, seven per cent agreed with the claim that higher salaries could help in stopping government members and provincial political decision-makers from becoming corrupt.

Tyrolean ÖVP Governor Günther Platter came under pressure recently when it emerged that he attended hunting trips organised by local entrepreneurs. The ex-interior minister said the governor of a province should be allowed to spend his free time with personal friends. Platter vehemently denied that the participation in the hunt influenced any of his political decisions.