Vienna [Austria]: Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Sunday said that the country will hold snap elections at the beginning of September, two days after Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned from his post as corruption scandals surfaced against him.
Kurz called the snap elections a “necessity for a maximum of stability” in the country, following an announcement by President Alexander Van der Bellen that early elections would be held very soon, CNN reported.
“We are of the same opinion, that after these events it is not possible to go back to business as usual. The new election is not a wish, it is a necessity,” Kurz was quoted, as saying.
“What is important now, and that is the uppermost requirement, is to ascertain a full explanation of what happened. We need all the suspicious facts, which have arisen as a result of the video to be verified; that naturally concerns themes of potential abuse of power, to questions of potential criminal concern,” he said.
A meeting between Kurz and Bellen took place earlier in the day to discuss how to proceed after the video scandal that led to the collapse of the coalition government.
Strache, leader of the right-wing populist Freedom Party, was caught in secret video, released by two German newspapers, discussing offering public contracts for political support.
Speaking alongside the Chancellor on Sunday, Bellen said the government’s main task now is to “rebuild the trust” in Austria’s institutions, adding that this can “only be done through new elections,” which are to be held in September.
As of now, Transport Minister Norbert Hofer, who ran for the presidency in 2016, is expected to take over as head of the Freedom Party.
The scandal is a blow to the Freedom Party, one of Europe’s most successful nationalist groups, ahead of the European Parliament elections, which far-right parties across the Continent have set their sights on.