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Austrian president calls for September snap elections


Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen attends a press conference on May 18, 2019 in Vienna. – Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced fresh elections after explosive revelations from a hidden camera sting forced his deputy, far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache, to resign, bringing an end to his coalition. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said Sunday he wanted snap elections to take place in September after the government collapsed over a corruption scandal.

“My preference is for early elections in September, if possible the beginning of September,” he told journalists after holding talks with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

The legal procedures to fix the date will now have to take place over the coming weeks, with Van der Bellen set to hold further talks with other party leaders.


The announcement came after a dramatic 48 hours in Austrian politics which saw far-right Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resign in disgrace following explosive revelations in a hidden camera sting.

On Friday, two German newspapers published footage showing Strache openly discussing the possibility of awarding public contracts in return for campaign help for his far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

Speaking alongside Van der Bellen, Kurz said that early elections had not been “desirable, but were necessary”, and that he would also try to establish who exactly was behind the recording of the footage.

Neither Van der Bellen or Kurz addressed the question of who would replace Strache in the run-up to elections and whether senior FPOe politicians — including controversial Interior Minister Herbert Kickl — would be allowed to stay in post.

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