ZAGREB: German Chan­c­ellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that European politicians “must stand up to” far-right politicians “for sale”, after a hidden-camera sting brought down nationalist Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache over allegations he was open to corruption.

“We are confronted with currents... who want to destroy the Europe of our values, and we must stand up to that decisively,” Merkel told a press conference in the Croatian capital Zagreb before heading to a gathering of the country’s ruling conservative HDZ party ahead of European Parliament elections.

While far-right parties rejected values like protecting minorities and basic human rights, Merkel said, “politicians being for sale plays a role, and we must act decisively against all of that”.

Germany’s Der Spiegel and Sueddeutsche Zeitung late Friday published video recordings, allegedly showing Freedom Party (FPOe) leader Strache promising public contracts in return for campaign help from a fake Russian backer.

Merkel’s intervention followed a string of appeals from leading German politicians for voters not to follow the neighbouring country’s example by putting the far right in positions of power.

“People like this mustn’t be allowed to take any responsibility in Europe,” the leader of Merkel’s centre-right CDU party Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had been “irresponsible” to invite the FPOe into his government, foreign minister Heiko Maas of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) said, calling them “enemies of freedom”.

Other parties preemptively warned the CDU off potential alliances with German far-right outfit Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019