Sexist tweet gets Austrian politician sacked

A sexist tweet by Austrian ÖVP politician Efgani Dönmez has caused outrage -- and gotten him dismissed from his party's parliamentary group.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Sexist tweet gets Austrian politician sacked - NewsMavens
Efgani Dönmez, Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

The ÖVP, conservative party of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has had to dismiss an MP after he insinuated on Twitter that Sawsan Chebli, German State Secretary for Citizenship and International Affairs, got her position by performing oral sex.

His exact words were, in answer to a question about how Chebli got her job:

"Look at her knees and maybe you will find an answer ;)"

Some Twitter users were confused by the comment, but it was widely assumed that Dönmez referred to "blowjob knees," meaning that Chebli had performed sexual favors in exchange for her position.

Chancellor Kurz dismissed Dönmez on the grounds that "sexist, offensive gaffes are not acceptable". 

But Kurz can hardly pretend to be surprised, and has brought the problem unto himself, since Dönmez has long been known for his degrading comments towards women -- see the examples below.

Details from the story:

  • Austrian MP Efgani Dönmez of the ruling conservative party ÖVP has suggested in a tweet on September 1 that German State Secretary Sawsan Chebli (SPD) had made a career through sexual favors. Asked by a Twitter user how Chebli could have ever become state secretary, Dönmez answered : "Look at her knees, maybe you'll find an answer ;)" 
  • The sexist tweet caused a storm of criticism, and there were demands for his resignation. 
  • Two days later, the ÖVP politician deleted his tweet. On Monday afternoon, ÖVP party leader and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that Dönmez would be dismissed from the ÖVP's parliamentary list.
  • Dönmez remains in the parliament as an independent MP.
  • Dönmez was repeatedly compromised during his political career. In his time as a Green politician, he first caused an internal party uproar in 2008, when he said: "The women in our party are definitely all highly committed and qualified. Having breasts is not enough for the Greens as a qualification."

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at