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Far-right ready to quit Austrian government as Russia denies involvement in corruption scandal

Austrian far-right ministers on Monday were ready to leave their positions after a corruption scandal caused the coalition government to collapse, the party leader said. The Kremlin says the scandal is "'nothing to do with us".

Far-right ready to quit Austrian government as Russia denies involvement in corruption scandal
Austrian Transport Minister and designated leader of farright Freedom Party (FPOe) Norbert Hofer (L) and Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPOe). Photo: AFP

“We will give up our government offices if Interior Minister Herbert Kickl is forced out,” said Norbert Hofer, who is infrastructure minister and head of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

On Sunday Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said Sunday he wanted snap elections to take place in September after the government collapsed over a corruption scandal.

The Kremlin on Monday said the corruption scandal involving Austria's far-right party that caused the government to collapse has nothing to do with Russia.

“This is an incident that has not and could not have anything to do with us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in Russia's first official comment on the scandal.

On Friday far-right Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned in disgrace following explosive revelations in a hidden camera sting.

On Friday, two German newspapers published footage showing Strache openly discussing the possibility of awarding public contracts in return for campaign help for his far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

Strache stepped down as vice-chancellor and FPOe leader after recordings published by German media Friday showed him offering government contracts in return for campaign help to a fake Russian backer in a villa on the resort island of Ibiza.

Elsewhere in the footage, Strache appears to hint at ways political donations could escape legal scrutiny.

Kickl was FPOe secretary general at the time when any political donations would have been made. Strache on Saturday denied the party had received illegal funds. 

“It is clear Herbert Kickl cannot probe himself,” Kurz was quoted by the Kurier newspaper on Monday.

He said the recordings were the final straw in a string of FPOe-related scandals.

Perhaps the most damaging recent controversy linked to interior minister Kickl was last year's raids on the domestic intelligence agency BVT.

Numerous documents were seized, raising fears among Austria's Western partners about the possibility of leaks to Moscow.

The FPOe has a cooperation agreement with President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.

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POLITICS

How much do Austrian politicians earn as a monthly salary?

Politicians in Austria are getting a 5.3 percent salary increase in 2023 as inflation rises in the country. So how much will they earn?

How much do Austrian politicians earn as a monthly salary?

The rising inflation rate, which is expected to be at 10.6 percent in November, is reflected in the salaries of politicians in Austria, according to the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung.

According to Austrian law, all salaries are calculated based on the income of the members of the National Council, the Austrian Parliament. Next year, they will receive €9,873 gross per month – €497 more than their salaries in 2022. The values were rounded to the whole euro amount. 

READ ALSO: How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

So, how much are the leading politicians going to earn as a monthly gross salary in 2023?

  • Bundespräsident: the head of the Austrian State (Federal President) will earn €26,701 per month. Alexander Van der Bellen was reelected to the position and should stay in the job for six more years
  • Bundeskanzler: the head of the Austrian government (Chancellor) will earn €23,840 per month. That’s the salary of Karl Nehammer (ÖVP), who is expected to run for reelection in the next national elections set for 2024
  • Vizekanzler: the current vice-chancellor is Werner Kögler (Greens), and he is set to earn €20,979 from 2023
  • NR-Präsident: this refers to the leader of the National Council (Nationalrat, in German), who earns €20,026. Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) holds the position
  • Landeshauptleute: this German word literally means “main persons of the province”. (Land means country, but it actually refers to the bundesländer, the country’s states or provinces). These are the current governors of the Austrian provinces, such as Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), mayor of the city-state of Vienna. They’ll earn €19,072 per month
  • Ministerin/Minister: Ministers of the federal government, including Health and Social Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens), will earn €19,072 every month
  • Landesrätin/-rat: the provincial councillors should earn €17,771 every month from 2023
  • Staatssekretärin/-sekretär: State secretaries, who play the part of Ministers in the provincial level, will earn €17,165
  • Bundesratsmitglieder: a “member of the Bundesrat”, which is the upper house in the Austrian parliament, will earn €4,936 per month

READ ALSO: Explained: How to understand your payslip in Austria

In Austria, hired employees are paid 14 times per year, with extra salaries ahead of summer holidays and Christmas.

Unless the National Council decides against the pay rise, the increase will come into effect on January 1st 2023.

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