Herbert Kickl, the chairman of the right-wing party FPÖ and former Minister of the Interior of Austria, considers it “massively defamatory and damaging to credit” if someone doubts his presentation that he has not been vaccinated against Covid.

On Tuesday, Kickl filed a suit with the Vienna Commercial Court.

It is directed against Peter Rosam, editor of a culinary magazine called Falstaff.

Because Rosam is a good friend of Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), he is occasionally also asked about political matters, so last week on the online platform Oe24.

And then he said, obviously aware that this is a sensitive point, he had heard that Kickl had been vaccinated “secretly”, “that would of course be the hammer”.

Stephan Löwenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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The matter is tricky because Kickl has placed himself at the head of those in Austria who consider all Covid measures to be unfounded restrictions on freedom and also reject vaccinations.

In August, he questioned whether a vaccination was a good idea and instead called for people to strengthen their immune system, for example with “vitamin preparations”, “work with bitter substances”, “exercise as much as possible in the fresh air” and “cultivate interpersonal relationships that is not dominated by fear ”.

He himself is not vaccinated and wants to stay that way.

You can hardly swing further out than Kickl

Since he toppled Norbert Hofer as party chairman, the FPÖ has gathered behind Kickl and supports this fundamental opposition in the matter of Corona. But with nuances. Hofer himself announced that he had been vaccinated because he thought it would make sense. The Upper Austrian FPÖ boss Manfred Haimbuchner, who himself suffered a very serious Covid illness, made a similar statement and only stayed on Kickl's line insofar as he emphasized voluntariness. Haimbuchner is state minister in Linz in an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition, and as a member of the government he is, so to speak, an antipode to Fundi Kickl. Next Sunday there will be elections in Upper Austria, the question of how the Haimbuchner FPÖ will perform will be exciting. Especially since there is also a kind of corona denier party that has taken on a very noticeable size.

Such a formation has little space throughout Austria: You can hardly swing further outwards than Kickl. What was embarrassing these days, however, was the revelation that not only the Realos Hofer and Haimbuchner, but also numerous other functionaries of the FPÖ had long been vaccinated. It is all the more important to Kickl to have the court recorded that the rumor that he was vaccinated was “a lie from front to back”.