Austria to Hold New Elections in September After Russia-Themed Video Brings Down Vice Chancellor

By Paul Riegler on 19 May 2019
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DSC_2886 (1)Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen called on Sunday for new elections in September following the collapse of the government following the release of a video that showed Heinz-Christian Strache, the country’s far-right vice chancellor, offering government contracts to a woman posing the representative of a Russian investor.

On Saturday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that his party’s coalition with the FPÖ, or Freedom Party, was no longer tenable and ended the coalition that had kept the ÖVP, the Austrian People’s Party, in power.

Mr. Strache said he was resigning as leader of the FPÖ following the video’s release, which had been recorded in July 2017 in a villa in Ibiza, Spain. The video was published by Der Spiegel and the Süddeutsche Zeitung and showed Strache sitting on a sofa in a T-shirt, promising the Russian construction contracts if she helps his party.  The woman, posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch, proposed acquiring a 50% stake in the Kronen-Zeitung newspaper, and the two reportedly discussed how the newspaper would then support him.

The video, which appears to have been a setup, also shows Strache boasting about his many trips to Russia and how he met with advisers of President Vladimir Putin for “strategic collaboration,” according to the article in Der Spiegel.

He also tells the woman she could help the FPÖ in the 2017 elections.

Kurz has continually distanced himself from his coalition partner as reports of racism and anti-Semitism in the FPÖ mounted. The party was founded by Anton Reinhaller, a former Nazi, in the 1950s.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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