Austrian justice has searched the office of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in a corruption investigation. There were also raids on Wednesday at the Ministry of Finance, the party office of Kurz’s ruling party ÖVP and homes of political confidants. The immediate reason for this are suspicions of bribery: the Ministry of Finance would according to justice paid for positive coverage of the ÖVP. For example, the Public Prosecution Service speaks of “party politically motivated and manipulated” polls.
The bribery by Kurz and his party is said to have taken place between 2016 and 2018. The money is said to have been paid by the Ministry of Finance. The polls are said to have been presented as editorial coverage and not as an advertisement in an Austrian newspaper and other media. The statement does not specify which newspaper it concerns. According to various Austrian media, these are publications of media group Österreich, al denies the company itself that the government paid for the publication of opinion polls.
Österreich writes that he is collaborating with a research institute that surveys the Austrian population about their political views and party affiliations. According to the media company, the same institute has also conducted opinion polls for the Ministry of Finance, although they have been said to have focused on other topics such as taxation and budget discipline. Österreich also claims not to have received more advertising money from the Austrian government than other competing media.