VIENNA — Ahead of national elections, Austria’s Social Democratic Party is facing charges of violating anti-Nazi laws over Facebook platforms created by an Israeli adviser suggesting that a rival party’s head has anti-Semitic sentiments.
Elisabeth Koestinger of the rival People’s Party said Friday her party is asking federal prosecutors to investigate and press charges.
Israeli political adviser Tal Silberstein has acknowledged being behind the Facebook platforms. Both he and Social Democratic Chancellor Christian Kern say that Kern was not aware of them.
Still the issue is hurting the Social Democrats ahead of Oct. 15 elections and making a coalition of the center-right People’s Party and the right-wing Freedom Party likely.
The Social Democrats fired Silberstein in August after Israeli authorities arrested him on suspicion of money laundering, obstruction of justice, bribery, and related crimes.
Tal Silberstein was one of four suspects arrested in Israel following a joint investigation with Swiss and American authorities.
Social Democratic Party official Georg Niedermuhlbicher says his party’s move was a result of “the legal accusations that have been made known from Israel.” The party is the senior partner in the coalition now ruling Austria.
The development came ahead of October national elections and could hurt the Social Democrats, who are trailing behind center-right and right-wing rivals in polls. The other parties are criticizing the Social Democrats for choosing Silberstein as a consultant.