Vortex in the National Council
An urgent question from the FPÖ to Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) led to a loud debate in Parliament on Wednesday. Because it was not the Federal Chancellor who appeared, but his State Secretary Claudia Plakolm (ÖVP), who hardly answered the questions asked. The opposition found it a «farce».
Even before the debate, opposition MPs reacted angrily to Nehammer’s failure to appear in the House. SPÖ vice club leader Jörg Leichtfried accused Nehammer of «fleeing from responsibility» and «political cowardice». Not coming into parliament is «lack of respect for the National Council». FPÖ club boss Herbert Kickl agreed – the ÖVP boss did not have the courage to appear. Even the Greens criticized it.
The chancellor’s office only said that Plakolm was Nehammer’s representative in parliament, and that the chancellor had often been represented by his state secretary. Nehammer has been Federal Chancellor since December 2021, Plakolm State Secretary. At the end of February, she represented her party colleague in an urgent request from the SPÖ on the subject of inflation.
National Council, June 15, 2022
Staatssekretärin Claudia Plakolm (ÖVP)
Plakolm did not stay on topic
Plakolm’s speech on Wednesday was accompanied by heckling from the start, which is why National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) asked for «content». The State Secretary, on the other hand, did not really stick to the subject, but complained about the unprofessional tone in the House and said that the concerns of the «people» were completely different from the topic of the question, namely how politics would compensate for inflation.
The only way to regain the trust that has been lost in politics as a whole is to do practical work, she repeatedly criticized the opposition. In terms of content, the state secretary did not respond to most of the questions, but talked about conversations she had recently had. «This is not the subject of the execution,» was the most common sentence that had to do with the actual topic. A long debate on the rules of procedure followed, followed by an even longer «standstill», because that was clearly not enough for the opposition MPs.
Nikolaus Scherak from NEOS was convinced that Plakolm also refused to answer questions that would very well be covered by the right to ask questions. «One farce,» said Leichtfried too. Even for the Greens, after all the coalition partner of the ÖVP, the State Secretary’s answers were inadequate. «This answer was insufficient,» said Green club boss Sigrid Maurer, who expects improvement.
Hafenecker speaks of cowardice
In the justification for the urgent request, FPÖ mandater Christian Hafenecker had previously dealt vigorously with the ÖVP. He attested Nehammer «cowardice». What the ÖVP made of the republic was «a disgrace». Hafenecker said that the ÖVP corruption investigation committee had shown corruption in advertisements, tax evasion and job scams.
Hafenecker received a call to order for insulting the head of state for his statement that the ÖVP had even managed to “corrupt” the Federal President because he was taking part in the whole fuss. Hafenecker listed the ÖVP headlines of the last few months, most recently «subsidy abuse» in the Seniors’ Association with coronavirus aid and the Court of Auditors’ doubts about the 2019 election campaign cost accounting. «You have ripped off the republic where you can.»
The FPÖ wanted to know from the chancellor, for example, to what extent the scandals would affect his conduct of office or what consequences Nehammer wants to draw if the Independent Party Transparency Senate (UPTS) finds illegal activity in party finances. The mandatary also asked about government plans and legal consequences, for example in the area of party donations and club constructions in the area close to the party.
Second attempt for two questions
About an hour and a half after Sobotka announced that Plakolm would again comment on two questions, the state secretary briefly denied attempts to intervene with the UPTS and saw no illegal payments from the NPO fund to the ÖVP senior citizens’ association. Part of the turbulent debate in the National Council was also a motion of no confidence in Nehammer, brought in by FPÖ General Secretary Michael Schnedlitz and ultimately only supported by the FPÖ and thus rejected.
jkla, ORF.at/ agencies