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Austrian video scandal is 'two-pronged attack' on EU conservatives & Russia

Austrian video scandal is 'two-pronged attack' on EU conservatives & Russia
The scandalous video that has cost the Austrian vice chancellor his job plays into the hands of establishment parties elsewhere in Europe, and at the same time attacks Russia, which is seen as the right-wing's backer, experts say.

"Such a scandal plays very well into the hands of establishment parties elsewhere in Europe and there's another element involved in this because they can basically kill two flies with one blow: it's against the populism in Europe in general, and, of course, against Russia," Peter Schulze, professor of International Relations at University of Gottingen, told RT. The rise of the right has been a serious thorn in mainstream parties' sides, he said, calling the video scandal "basically a two-pronged attack."

The timing of its release is strange, however. It leaves the now-resigned vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache's Freedom Party (FPO) with room to regroup and recover in time for the September snap elections at home, which he believes are more important for the party than the European Parliament elections coming up this weekend. In the end, "It may be a kind of an individual revenge act," Schulze theorized.

Also on rt.com ‘Enemies of freedom’? Germany launches anti-rightwing crusade amid Austrian govt crisis

The scandalous footage, revealed by the German media last week, showed Strache and another high-ranking FPO member talking to a woman, claimed to be a "niece of a Russian oligarch," during a drunken get-together in Ibiza. They discuss support for the party's campaign during the 2017 general election in Austria in exchange for future preferences in getting government construction contracts.

Trick too cheap to fall for?

Potential fallout aside, the video itself looks strikingly like a cheap spy movie, Hugh Bronson from the German party Alternative for Germany (AfD) told RT, arguing that EU voters will never fall for it. Right-wing parties are going strong ahead of the European Parliament elections and the political crisis in Austria won't change that, Bronson insists.

Also on rt.com Austria: All FPO ministers resign from government amid video scandal

The leak "will have some effect and, probably, [Strache's right-wing] Freedom party (FPO) will lose some points when it comes to polling day on Sunday, but it won't have the big effect that some others hope it will have on the right spectrum of the political agenda," he said.

The video could actually "backfire against the so-called establishment parties because simply of the way the video was presented," Bronson argued.

"Lots of vodka; beauties with money to spare; a house on a party island in the Mediterranean; two powerful men intoxicated and ready to talk – all this has the quality of a C-Rated spy movie. I don't believe that Europeans and voters will fall for this," Bronson said, adding that it was still just "a singular incident," involving a major right-wing European figure.

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