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WorldAustrian Leader Calls for Snap Election After Far-Right Vice Chancellor Resigns

05:05  19 may  2019
05:05  19 may  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called snap elections after the country’s far - right vice chancellor resigned over a secretly filmed video from 2017. European diplomats for months have expressed reservations about intelligence sharing with Austria because of the dominance of the far - right party

Footage showed far - right party leader appearing to offer to funnel state contracts in exchange for political and financial support. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Sunday that the country will hold snap elections in early September following the resignation earlier of Vice

Austrian Leader Calls for Snap Election After Far-Right Vice Chancellor Resigns© Getty Images/Getty Images A demonstration outside the Federal Chancellery after Mr. Strache’s resignation.

BERLIN — Austria’s chancellor called on Saturday for snap elections after the country’s far-right vice chancellor resigned over a secretly filmed video from 2017 that renewed questions about whether Russia had a direct line into a government at the heart of Europe.

The video showed Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party promising government contracts to a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

Austrian president calls for September poll in wake of scandal

Austrian president calls for September poll in wake of scandal Austria's President Alexander Van der Bellen on Sunday called for fresh elections in September after a corruption scandal embroiling the far-right brought down the coalition government in spectacular fashion. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Just days before key EU elections, Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache was forced to resign in disgrace Saturday following explosive revelations from a hidden camera sting.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for snap elections after Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache from the far - right Freedom Party (FPÖ) resigned over allegations of corruption.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz calls a snap poll after his far - right deputy quits over a major scandal. The move came after Vice - Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned after secret footage emerged showing In 2002, early elections had to be called when its coalition with the conservatives fell apart.

“After yesterday’s video, enough is enough,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a room packed with reporters on Saturday night in the capital Vienna. He said he had asked Austria’s president to hold a new election “as soon as possible.”

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The video was the worst in a series of missteps that ultimately brought down Austria’s governing coalition. It raised anew concerns about whether the Freedom Party had been working to undermine liberal democracy and media freedoms in the country while it helped Mr. Kurz govern as the junior party in his coalition.

For weeks, opposition parties had called on Mr. Kurz to end his controversial coalition with the Freedom Party, with its well-documented links to far-right extremists and to Russia, which have increasingly worried allies at home and abroad.

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Austrian Chancellor Kurz has requested new elections after a corruption scandal brought down his vice chancellor . Footage showed the far - right deputy allegedly offering contracts to a supposed Russian investor. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Saturday that the country

Legislative elections were held in Austria on 29 September 2019, to elect the 27th National Council, the lower house of Austria 's bicameral parliament.

The scandal comes at an important political moment in the European Union. Across the Continent, far-right, populist leaders are campaigning hard before this coming week’s elections for the European Parliament and seem poised to increase their share in the chamber.

Many of Europe’s populists share the intentions of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to widen political divisions and weaken Western institutions. Those tactics have involved interfering in democratic campaigns including the United States 2016 elections. And a Russian woman, Maria Butina, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last December after admitting that she had been part of that effort.

Not long ago, far-right parties were on the fringes of European politics. But like Austria’s Freedom Party, several are now part of coalition governments. Some populist leaders, particularly in the Scandinavian countries and Poland, are wary of Russia. But others are outspoken in their desire for closer ties to the Kremlin.

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'Going to Ibiza' - Austria scandal sends '90s dance hit to number 1 While Austrian politicians have been in crisis mode since a video sting led to the collapse of the right-wing government, one song has become an unlikely anthem: the 1999 sing-a-long party hit "We're Going to Ibiza" by Dutch pop group Vengaboys. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The Austrian government collapsed over the weekend after far-right Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache resigned as vice chancellor.

Conservative Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pulled the plug Saturday on his coalition with the far - right Freedom Party, after the party's leader quit as vice chancellor He said he would propose to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen that a snap election be held as soon as possible.

BERLIN — Conservative Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for new elections on Saturday, hours after his far - right vice As one of Europe’s highest-profile far - right leaders , Strache has shaped Austrian politics for years and was considered to be an influential voice abroad, where he

Now Austria is at the center of a battle of ideas between liberal Western democrats and populist forces allied with Mr. Putin, who as a K.G.B. spy based in Communist Germany would go to Austria to ski.

“Vienna plays a key role for Putin and for the far right,” said Peter Pilz, an independent Austrian lawmaker. “Far-right parties all over Europe have become a sort of fifth column for Russia. In Austria, that fifth column has been in government.”

Foreign intelligence services have stopped sharing sensitive information with Austria for fear that it may leak to Moscow. European diplomats for months have expressed reservations about intelligence sharing with Austria because of the dominance of the far-right party over the country’s intelligence services. Austria, since the dawn of the Cold War a neutral country, is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Freedom Party has longstanding ties with Russia and a formal cooperation agreement with Mr. Putin’s United Russia party. But without the Freedom Party, Mr. Kurz’s conservative Austrian People’s Party does not have a majority in Parliament.

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Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called snap elections after the country’s far - right vice chancellor resigned over a secretly filmed video from 2017. The video showed Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far - right Freedom Party promising government contracts to a woman claiming to be a

BERLIN — Austria ’s chancellor called on Saturday for snap elections after the country’s far - right vice chancellor resigned over a secretly filmed video from 2017 that renewed questions about whether Russia had a direct line into a government at the heart of Europe.

The video of Mr. Strache’s meeting was filmed in a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza three months before the 2017 Austrian elections in which Mr. Kurz led his party to victory. It exposed in a raw fashion Mr. Strache’s apparent eagerness to help Russia with unethical promises for government contracts in exchange for donations to his party.

Apparently filmed without Mr. Strache’s knowledge, the footage was obtained and published on Friday by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel and the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, two respected news outlets. The New York Times could not independently verify the contents of the entire video.

The motive and the timing of the recording’s release remained unknown. Der Spiegel would not say how it had obtained the video, but confirmed that it knew the identity of its source.

But what is clear from excerpts from the video is the Freedom Party’s willingness to foster close links to Russia, even if in this case, the meeting may have been a setup.

The footage shows Mr. Strache and a Russian-speaking Freedom Party official smoking and drinking while talking to a woman who claims to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. When she offers to support the Freedom Party and to invest 250 million euros, around $280 million, in Austria, Mr. Strache offers her road-building contracts in the country in return.

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Government falls apart after vice - chancellor resigns after being compromised in video. Far - right parties rejected values like the protection of minorities and basic human rights, Merkel said Calling for early elections , the Social Democrats described the incident as Austria ’s biggest postwar scandal.

VIENNA (AP) — Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for an early election after his vice chancellor resigned Saturday over a covertly shot video Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned after two German publications, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the weekly Der Spiegel

After resigning as vice chancellor and leader of the Freedom Party on Saturday, Mr. Strache played down his comments as “typical alcohol-fueled macho behavior” in an attempt to impress the “attractive hostess.”

“I behaved boastfully like a teenager,” he said at a news conference in Vienna on Saturday.

Mr. Strache first met Mr. Putin in May 2007. In 2014, at least two Freedom Party members took part as election observers during the Russian referendum after the annexation of Crimea.

Then in 2016, seven months before the meeting in Ibiza, Mr. Strache traveled to Moscow to sign a formal cooperation agreement between the Freedom Party and Mr. Putin’s United Russia party. Last August, Austria’s foreign minister, Karin Kneissl, who is backed by the Freedom Party, invited Mr. Putin to her wedding.

Chancellor Kurz has said that the links between the Freedom Party and Russia were overstated.

“Regarding the close contacts between Russia and the Freedom Party, I can only smile,” he said in an interview with The New York Times last month. “Every Western foreign minister has more contact with senior Russian officials in one year than the Freedom Party in its entire history.”

Mr. Kurz won in 2017 by giving a youthful repackaging to much of the agenda of the Freedom Party, which he then invited into a coalition government.

At one point in the video, Mr. Strache compared journalists to prostitutes. He also said he would like Austria’s news media landscape to resemble that of neighboring Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban turned the media into a pro-government propaganda machine while allies have bought up swathes of the private media sector.

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“ Austria ’s chancellor called Saturday for snap elections after the country’s far - right vice chancellor resigned over a secretly filmed video from 2017 that renewed questions about whether Russia had a “I rely on Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire for straight, fair political news, he gets right to the point.

A 2017 video that was secretly filmed showed Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache promising government contracts to a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. Sign up for special world news!

“We want to build a media landscape like Orban did,” Mr. Strache says in the video, floating the idea of partly privatizing Austria’s public broadcaster and encouraging a suggestion by his Russian counterpart to take over Austria’s most influential tabloid.

“If she takes over the Krone newspaper three weeks before election and brings us to spot number one, then we can talk about anything,” Mr. Strache says.

Mr. Strache’s dismissive comments about journalists and casual planning to undermine Austria’s media freedom are seen as ominous. Last year, an internal memo circulated by the press chief of the Interior Ministry, which is controlled by the Freedom Party, instructed officials to shut out critical news media and reward those that provided favorable coverage with access.

Since then, the party has proposed replacing the broadcast fee that Austrians pay the public broadcaster with a tax-funded model that would give the government more control over the outlet.

In recent weeks, a senior Freedom Party official has also demanded the removal of a television news anchor on Austria’s public broadcaster who had challenged him about a campaign poster that many said was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.

In addition to openly nurturing its ties to Russia, the Interior Ministry has also raided its own intelligence agency, notably the department investigating far-right extremism.

And last month, a Freedom Party official wrote a poem calling immigrants rats.

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