Mon, 06 Jul 2020

Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has resigned following the release of a secret video in which he is seen offering government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor in exchange for political support.

'I tendered my resignation as vice-chancellor of Austria to Chancellor [Sebastian] Kurz, and he accepted this decision,' Strache said on May 18 in a televised statement.

Strache said he did not break any laws while admitting to the 'extremely embarrassing, drunken affair.'

He said that transport minister Norbert Hofer would replace him.

Strache's resignation came hours after a video released by Der Spiegel magazine and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in which he appeared to offer infrastructure contracts to a woman posing as a wealthy potential donor from Russia.

The encounter on the Spanish island of Ibiza took place in July 2017, three months before the Austrian parliamentary vote that brought Strache's Freedom Party to power and made him vice chancellor.

It wasn't clear who was behind the video.

The scandal has led to speculation about the future of the governing coalition between Strache's anti-immigration Freedom Party and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's center-right People's Party.

Senior figures in the coalition government held an emergency meeting on May 17 to discuss the crisis.

Based on reporting by dpa, AP, AFP and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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