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Austria and the Plot Against Europe

The collapse of Austria’s government has revealed how extensive Russian manipulation of Europe's politics has become. The question every European democrat of the left, right, and center must now ask is whether the true scope and scale of the political, moral, and material corruption of Europe’s far-right parties has been exposed in time.

LONDON – Across Europe, the looming European Parliament elections have long been viewed as the biggest showdown yet between populism and Europe’s established democratic parties. The collapse of Austria’s government has now revealed just how high the stakes are. The question every European democrat of the left, right, and center must now ask themselves is whether the true scope and scale of the political, moral, and material corruption of Europe’s far-right parties, as revealed in Austria, have been discovered in time.

Austria has been ruled since 2017 by a coalition government comprising the Austrian Peoples’ Party (dubbed the Sebastian Kurz list, after the party leader and current chancellor) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ), founded by ex-SS officers in the 1950s. The release of a video by two of Germany’s leading news outlets, Der Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung, has ruptured the coalition, and a new election has been called for this September.

The video was breathtaking, as it showed a louche Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the FPÖ’s leader, drinking heavily and promising government contracts to a woman who claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. In exchange for her buying Austria’s most popular newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, and flipping it into the FPÖ camp, Strache offered to arrange for the woman to secure contracts to build roads in Austria at inflated prices. Yet Strache’s corrupt purposes didn’t end with his proposed assault on Kronen Zeitung. The FPÖ’s real goal, he said, was to accomplish in Austria what Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has achieved in his own country: turn the media into pliant supporters of his party.

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