People gather in front of Ballhausplatz to call for a snap election in Vienna, Austria, May 18, 2019. Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen approved on Saturday the proposal of holding snap elections after the far-right vice chancellor resigned over an alleged corruption video and effectively led to the collapse of the coalition government. (Xinhua/Guo Chen)
VIENNA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen approved on Saturday the proposal of holding snap elections after the far-right vice chancellor resigned over an alleged corruption video and effectively led to the collapse of the coalition government.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced at a press conference Saturday evening that considering both the Social Democratic Party (SPO) and the Freedom Party (FPO) "are not what our country needs", it is necessary to carry out elections "at the earliest opportunity".
"In this spirit, I have agreed with Chancellor Kurz about holding an early election," said Van der Bellen at a press conference later this evening.
The president said that he would meet with the chancellor on Sunday to discuss about how to conduct such an election.
Kurz on Saturday proposed to President Van der Bellen to hold early elections as soon as possible after his vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned over an alleged corruption video.
It was a secretly recorded video two German news outlets the Spiegel and the Suddeutsche Zeitung published on Friday that broke hell loose. In the video, the FPO boss and vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and the FPO's group leader in parliament Johann Gudenus had a conversation with an alleged relative of a Russian "oligarch". The woman offers the FPO politicians support, in return Strache and Gudenus promised to award her state orders.
"After yesterday's video, I have to say quite honestly, enough is enough," Kurz said.
Previously, both Strache and Gudenus had resigned from all political offices. The OVP has been governing together with the FPO since 2017.
"The pictures show a disturbing moral picture, we are not like that, that's just not the way Austria is," said Van der Bellen, and the comments made in the video are a "blatant disrespect to the citizens and I do not tolerate this disrespect."
Strache had apologized for his behavior documented in the video, but stressed that there had been no illegal and unlawful acts. "Yeah, it was stupid, it was irresponsible and it was a mistake," he admitted. At the same time he spoke of a "deliberate political assassination".