BrusselsViewPoint Europe’s 2019 Moments – Austria’s Ibiza-Gate

epa05413888 Austrian honor guards lower an Austrian flag during a military ceremony for Austrian outgoing President Heinz Fischer at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, 07 July 2016. Fischers second presidential term ends on 08 July 2016. EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

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Denise Grech takes a glimpse at the most memorable moments in Europe this year.

Ibiza-gate was a political scandal in Austria where the then chancellor of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache and leader of the Freedom Party (FPO) Johann Gudenus, were caught discussing receiving positive news coverage in exchange for government contracts.

The discussions, which were taking place in Ibiza, were held with a woman calling herself Alyona Makarova, who was posing as a niece of Russian businessman Igor Makarov. Strache and Gudenus also hinted at corrupt political practices involving other wealthy donors to the FPÖ in Europe and elsewhere. Unbeknownst to them, the conversation was a set-up: Makarova was pretending to be Makarov’s niece and the interaction took place after lawyer Ramin Mirfakhrai commissioned the investigation, which was then published.

The scandal caused the collapse of the Austrian governing coalition on 18 May 2019 and the announcement of an early election. In a no-confidence vote on 27 May, Sebastian Kurz was voted out of office as Austrian chancellor by Parliament, and on 28 May a caretaker government was appointed.

The scandal exposed just how far politicians’ will go for media influence and positive coverage. The Freedom Party is attached to conservative, populist views that often promote patriotism and nationalism. However, Ibiza-gate showed how political parties will stray away from the ideology to promote their own interests.

The 2019 Brussels View Point European Moments can be accessed here. 

2020 will be a lot of things, interesting is certainly one of them. But you don’t have to worry about it, that is our job. If you want to know where things are going, you won’t find a better source than the team at CiConsulta.

In the meantime, let me take this opportunity to wish you and your families a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.

CiConsulta’s GeoPolitics Advisor Matthew Bugeja’s forecast for 2020 can be read here .

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