May 19, 2019 8:45 am
Updated: May 19, 2019 1:12 pm

Austria’s president recommends September election after vice chancellor resigns over video scandal

WATCH ABOVE: Austria's President called for a snap election in September as Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pulled the plug on his coalition with the far-right after its leader was allegedly caught on video offering to fix state contracts with a woman posing as a Russian oligarch's niece.

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Austria‘s president on Sunday recommended a new election be held in early September, saying he wanted to restore trust in the government after a video scandal led to the resignation of the vice chancellor.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pulled the plug on the coalition and called for a snap election on Saturday after his deputy, Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party, quit over a video showed him discussing fixing state contracts in return for favours.

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“It is most important that Austrians are given the chance of a new start to rebuild trust in its government,” President Alexander van der Bellen said in a statement at his Hofburg residence in Vienna.

READ MORE: Austrian vice chancellor steps down over video as coalition teeters

“This new beginning should take place quickly, as quickly as the provisions of the Federal Constitution permit, so I plead for elections… in September, if possible at the beginning of September,” the president said.

WATCH: Austria’s vice chancellor and longtime far-right leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said on Saturday he was stepping down over video footage that threatened to bring down the right-wing coalition government.

Strache has described the video sting as a “targeted political assassination” and said it never led to any money changing hands. He insisted the only crime that took place was illegally videotaping a private dinner party.

Van der Bellen and Kurz said at their joint news conference that stability was a main priority for them for the coming months.

Kurz repeated that he saw the snap elections as the only way to solve the crisis. “The new elections were a necessity, not a wish,” he said.

The makeup of a caretaker government remained unclear a day after the 18-month-old coalition of conservatives and the far right collapsed.

© 2019 Reuters

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