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Austria to hold snap election in September following video scandal

Austria to hold snap election in September following video scandal

VIENNA (Rahnuma): Austria is set to hold a snap election in September, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said here on Sunday.

The president told journalists after a meeting with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that the beginning of September has been earmarked for the snap election.

The two leaders had met to discuss how to proceed after the video scandal that led to the collapse of the coalition government.

The news initially emerged Friday that vice-chancellor and leader of the right-wing populist Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache was caught in secret video discussing offering public contracts for political support.

Strache on Saturday resigned from all political posts, though this was apparently not enough for Kurz, of the centre-right People’s Party, who later announced new elections would be held.

The chancellor told media there must a “maximum of stability” in the country now, and that the snap elections are “not a wish, but a necessity.”

In addition, all of the controversial aspects of the video footage would be investigated, he said, and those who were behind the filming also sought out.

The two leaders had also discussed plans for how to carry things on until the election, though would not confirm whether the remaining Freedom Party ministers would continue to work as part of the coalition government until then.

In his departing address to media Saturday, Strache threw his support behind transport minister and former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer as a replacement, though it is unknown whether Kurz would agree with such an arrangement.

He did however say he would be holding talks with numerous officials including Hofer in the coming weeks. He also said that between now and the election he would like a “calm” working environment.

Van der Bellen for his part said that going forward there must be a “rebuilding of trust.”

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

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