the president wants early parliamentary elections in september

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The Right-Right-Right coalition in power exploded on Saturday after the broadcast of a video involving Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache in connection with Russia.

The World with AFP Posted today at 14h09, last update at 14h17

Time to Reading 1 min.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on May 19 in Vienna.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on May 19 in Vienna. HANS PUNZ / AFP

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen on Sunday (May 19th) called for early general elections to be held after the scandal on the far-right party FPÖ in September.

"I plead for new elections in September, if possible at the beginning of the month"said the head of state after an interview with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. The latter had invited him the day before to call a new vote, after the resignation of Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the extreme right.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Austria: the far-right Vice Chancellor trapped on his links with Russia in a video

In a few hours, the situation became untenable for the boss of the FPÖ after the publication of excerpts from a video shot secretly in a villa in Ibiza in 2017. We discover Heinz-Christian Strache and one of his lieutenants discussing in particular, the awarding of Austrian public contracts in exchange for financial support, with an interlocutor who claims to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. "She will have all the public contracts won today by Strabag", an Austrian construction group, a major player in the sector, says the leader of the FPÖ, according to the transcript of his remarks.

During the six hours of the discussion, Heinz-Christian Strache also says he is ready to reshape the Austrian press " as (Viktor) Orban ", the Hungarian prime minister who has locked the media landscape of his country. And he mentions a mechanism for illegal financing of electoral campaigns that would be practiced by his party.

Read also Austria: in the midst of a government crisis, Kurz announces early elections

Many questions remain about the development of the trap that seems to have been stretched to the Austrian leader in a villa full of microphones and cameras. The head of the government has yet to decide on a possible reshuffle before the parliamentary elections while five other FPÖ ministers remain in office.

At the European level, the scandal on the FPÖ is a blow for the nationalist camp, which is counting on a push in the elections of May 26 with the ambition to become the third force of the European Parliament. The Austrian political crisis has ruined the mass held Saturday in Milan by the head of the Italian League (far right), Matteo Salvini, with its European allies, including a representative of the FPÖ.

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