WHAT’S NEW(S) – KURZ’ RESIGNATION – 15/10/2021

Écrit par sur 15 octobre 2021

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

A focus on Austria this week, when the so-called “Wizz-kid” of Europe’s right announced to step down. What did the European press write about this sudden farewell?

Indeed, among allegations of corruption, Sebastian Kurz had to resign last Saturday, to save the coalition. The chancellor himself and 9 others were placed under investigation after raids at various locations linked to his party the ÖVP. Kurz and his close confidants were accused of using taxpayers’ money to ensure positive coverage in the media, and falsify the polls, stated Der Spiegel. The strong allegations took his coalition government to the “brink of collapse”, reported the BBC, after junior partner the Greens threatened with a vote of no-confidence. But even if Kurz resigned, this probably will not mean he’s out, predicted the press. “It quickly became clear that the ex-chancellor has no intention of riding quietly off into the sunset”, wrote Matthew Karnitschnig in POLITICO. He obviously plans to remain the leader of his party and take control of its parliamentary group, he argues; and the party top will stand by him, since Kurz is directly responsible for the party’s triumph the past years. According to Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, the resignation of strongman Kurz has clearly troubled the party’s image. Only 25% of Austrians would vote for the ÖVP if elections were held next Sunday; an enormous drop compared to the last elections in 2019.

And what did they write about Alexander Schallenberg, Austria’s new leader?

“The chance that the new chancellor writes history is very small” estimates Jeroen Reygaert in Flemish broadcaster VRT, who also describes Schallenberg as Kurz’ hand puppet, just there to warm his chair before Kurz announces his comeback. POLITICO’s correspondent Karnitschnig finds that indeed on paper, Schallenberg seems to be a true loyalist to the now ex-chancellor. He was his key advisor to Kurz when he became a foreign minister in 2013, and he remained a close ally since. Only a few days in office, Schallenberg already caused his first scandal, underlined Austrian newspaper Heute, simply discarding a 104-page printed house search warrant presented by NEOS party leader Beate Meinl-Reisinger in a parliamentary debate. During his inaugural speech, Schallenberg did not say a word about the investigation, nor announced any plans to fight corruption within his party, wrote Der Spiegel.

But then moving on to last year’s hot topic: the rule of law and EU funding. The Polish government took, again, the European spotlight this week, what happened? 

Indeed, the Polish government grabbed the attention of the European press since the constitutional tribunal has ruled that parts of EU law are not compatible with the Polish constitution, which supposes a dramatic escalation of a battle between Warsaw and Brussels with tens of billions of euros in EU funding at stake reports James Shotter in Financial Times. Adam Easton, BBC, calls the incident an ‘unprecedented challenge’ for the EU and states that it fuelled concerns that Poland is heading towards the door of ‘polexit’. The Polish constitutional tribunal that set up the clash with Brussels is seen as being under the political control of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, claims POLITICO. Spanish Newspaper El País argues that the EU will need to find a way to tackle the Europhobic proposals of Poland without creating bigger harm.

And what was the reaction of Polish citizens to this issue?

Well, the “Polexit panic” as described by POLITICO, quickly spread around the opposition, that organised rallies all around the country. According to The Guardian, more than 100.000 Poles gathered in more than 1000 cities to support the country’s EU membership after the rule of the constitutional court. Even if the call was a total success on the streets, Le Soir highlights that the demonstrations made evident that the Polish opposition is not united. Poland’s Prime Minister Matheus Morawiecki, accused opposition politicians of spreading what he said were lies about a possible “Polexit”, according to Reuters. In the meantime, the government has teamed up with Hungary to try to invalidate the new mechanism proposed by Brussels that prevent them from receiving funds if rule of law is not respected.

 

Photo : UNIS Vienna/Lilia Jiménez-Ertl


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