Austrian president eyes September as best time for new vote

Clay Curtis
May 21, 2019

The scandal also underscored worries about Russian influence in several European countries, especially among European populist movements such as Austria's governing Freedom Party. Van der Bellen has confirmed he has discussed the issue of early elections with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

In the video, recorded in July 2017, the Russian woman says that she hopes to invest €250 million in Austria; Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache then mulls over the ways that the money could help his anti-immigration Freedom Party.

"This is now exclusively about the well-being of our country and our reputation in the European Union and in the world", he said.

The two leaders had met to discuss how to proceed after the video scandal that led to the collapse of the coalition government. President Alexander Van der Bellen, who has the authority to dismiss the government, also said he favoured a snap election and would discuss details on Sunday.

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Kosachev also said that the incident was "part of a well-planned worldwide campaign" and other "revelations" would follow with "a Russian trace" to be found. The 49-year-old politician said he had been set up through illegal surveillance, but conceded his behavior had been "stupid, irresponsible and a mistake".

His statement was made after Alexander Van der Bellen had a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. She offers to buy 50 per cent stake in Austria's Kronen-Zeitung newspaper and switch its editorial position to support the Freedom Party.

The leader of the parliamentary group Pamela Rendi-Wagner (Austrian Social Democratic Party) adresses the media during an press conference at the Headquarter of the Austrian Social Democratic Party in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, May 18, 2019. "This is possible only with early elections", Reuters quotes his words.

Mr Strache resigned as vice-Chancellor on Saturday, admitting that his comments were "catastrophic and embarrassing".

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