Fake polls and tabloid coverage on demand: Sebastian Kurz’s dark side

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Fake polls and tabloid coverage on demand: Sebastian Kurz’s dark side


At the beginning of May, the Conservative leader had resigned and Mr Kurz was quickly appointed as his successor. Almost immediately, his party took off in the polls and, within three weeks, catapulted Mr. Kurz into the lead.

It was around this time that Mr Kurz also actively sought out meetings to lobby the most critical journalists. In June 2017, he had dinner with Mr Brandstätter, then editor-in-chief of Kurier, one of the broadsheet newspapers.

“Why don’t you love me? Mr. Kurz had asked several times, recalls Mr. Brandstätter in an interview.

“You have to decide whether you are my friend or my enemy,” Mr Kurz said.

Mr Kurz comfortably won the elections in October 2017. He had led his campaign on the limits of immigration and Austrian identity, giving a youthful polish to much of the far-right agenda – then l ‘inviting the government.

Over the next 17 months, he turned a blind eye to the many racist and anti-Semitic transgressions by his coalition partners. When journalists, like Mr. Brandstätter, reported on them, they would receive phone calls from Mr. Kurz or from a member of his extensive communications team.

“I get these calls all the time,” recalls Brandstätter. “Then he called the owners, then the owners called me. “

A year after Mr. Kurz took office, his newspaper relied on Mr. Brandstätter to quit his job and instead become an editor, a role without editorial control. He is now a member of the libertarian party Neos.

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