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New law lets minority parties start probes

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New law lets minority parties start probes
Austrian parliament. Photo: Peter Wuttke/Wikimedia
11:15 CEST+02:00
The coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and conservative People's Party (ÖVP) and the opposition parties, the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), the Greens and the liberal NEOS agreed on a reform allowing opposition parties to set up a parliamentary investigation committee.

According to the plan which was presented on Thursday a quarter of all 183 members of parliament could set up an investigation committee. Such a committee would be chaired by the speakers in parliament assisted by a retired judge. It would have a maximum duration of 20 months and was to end four months before an election date.

Only Team Stronach opposed this agreement which should be passed as a law in autumn.

SPÖ faction leader in parliament Andreas Schieder said that the agreement was a good compromise putting parliamentary work on a new level. His ÖVP counterpart Reinhold Lopatka was convinced that the opposition parties would use the right to set up an investigation committee very soon.


Roland Düringer presented 49,000 signatures supporting a parliamentary investigation into the Hypo scandal.  Photo: APA (Pfarrhofer)

It was expected that a parliamentary investigation into the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank would be started shortly after the new law had been passed.

Unaffordable guarantees granted by the late far-right leader Jörg Haider's regional government in Carinthia forced Austria to buy Hypo from Germany's Bayern Landesbank in 1999 for a symbolic one euro, or else see the province go under a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Since 2008, Austrian taxpayers have had to contribute €5.5 billion (US$7.5 billion) to the ailing bank. This is likely to lead to a budget shortfall doubling to 2.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, as well as boosting state debt to 80 percent of gross domestic product.

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