Austria's Far-Right Ministers Quit in Unison

22 Mai, 2019, 14:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Austrians gather to demand a snap election

Austria's far-right interior minister, Herbert Kickl, has said his under-fire Freedom Party (FPO) would support a vote of no confidence in the conservative chancellor, Sebastian Kurz. Kickl, a member of the right-wing Freedom Party, had refused to resign, even after party leader and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache stepped down from his post on Saturday, in the wake of a corruption scandal.

Kurz has called for fresh elections after a camera sting forced his deputy, Strache from the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), to resign on Saturday, just ahead of the European Union elections.

He also lambasted his coalition partner for damaging the country's reputation and said Kickl should not lead the investigation into whether criminal charges ought to be brought against Strache.

The political crisis was triggered last week by a 2017 video purportedly showing FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache offering contracts to a potential Russian benefactor in exchange for political donations.

The other ministers who are now set to follow Kickl out of the government include his colleagues at the foreign, defence, transport and social affairs ministries.

In the footage, Strache discussed rules on party financing and how to work around them.

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Kickl accused Kurz of attempting a power grab for his OVP party.

German media published the video on Friday, a week before a European Parliament election and a year-and-a-half after Austria once again became the only Western European country with far-right cabinet ministers.

Gudenus, who was instrumental in arranging the meeting, has quit as leader of the party's parliamentary group and is leaving the party. He endorsed a hard line on migration and public finances, and chose to ally with the Freedom Party after winning that year's election.

Kurz has said the recordings were the final straw in a string of FPO-related scandals, which have dogged the coalition since its formation in late 2017.

Kickl's party said he had done nothing wrong and sought to portray itself as the victim of a plot. In the video, Strache had a conversation with an alleged relative of a Russian "oligarch".

"We cannot value the appearance of that video in any way, because it has nothing to do with Russian Federation, neither with the president, nor with the government", Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Monday.

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