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Hypo Petition Puts Pressure on Austrian Government

Published: March 28, 2014; 10:27 · (Vindobona)

The support of the online petition for the establishing of an investigation committee has gained more than 105,000 supporters which puts increasing pressure on the government.

Despite the high support of an investigation committee the government insists on appointing a governmental commission. / Picture: © Wikipedia / JJ55 (30 March 2008)

The opposition in the Austrian parliament is pressing for the establishing of a parliamentary investigation committee for the nationalized problem bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria. However, the Austrian coalition parties – SPÖ and ÖVP – have so far rejected this idea, and instead appointed a government commission.

According to Heinz-Christian Strache, party leader of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), the appointing of a governmental commission was “outrageous and pure mockery”. Both Strache and Werner Kogler, budget spokesman and deputy party leader of the Austrian Green Party, attacked President Heinz Fischer, who has welcomed the commission under the leadership of Irmgard Griss, former president of the Austrian Supreme Court. “Perhaps Fischer will change his mind since he once was a member of the parliament,” Strache said.

The party chairmen of both coalition parties ÖVP and SPÖ, Reinhold Lopatka and Andreas Schieder, however, did not distance themselves from their aim. At first, the results of the commission are awaited before assessing any requirement which could then perhaps be taken over by an investigation committee, according to the coalition.

However, the unanimity within the coalition seems to crumble as the provincial parliament in Vorarlberg is panning a resolution for an investigation committee in the current primaries, and is supported by all parties, even the ÖVP, which holds the majority in the provincial parliament. Moreover, Daniela Holzinger, member of the national parliament of the SPÖ, has called for an investigation committee for some time. However, the petition by the opposition parties was once again rejected by the government.

According to Kogler, who announced further resistance and putting pressure on the leading parties, the coalition “is growing seemingly bolder as now the direct will of the citizens is supposed to be choked off.” Kogler is confident that both SPÖ and ÖVP will have to submit to the pressure “before the summer without a doubt.”

Robert Lugar, party member of Team Stronach, called the coalition’s proceedings a “disgrace” that the means of a petition even had to be considered as the right of a “control of the government by the parliament was “a matter of course”.

Mathias Strolz, party leader of Neos, considers the establishing of an investigation committee unavoidable.

Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger considers the establishing of a parliamentary investigation committee “completely counterproductive“. The members of the government have supported the idea of creating an investigation commission for the accounting of the past, i. e. the nationalization of the ailing bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria. Other ministers argue that the accounting of the nationalization has already taken place in an investigation committee in the province of Carinthia.