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Austrian Chancellor loses confidence vote amid corruption scandal

Monday, 27 May, 2019 - 19:54

The Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz has lost a no-confidence vote in the Parliament following the collapse of the government over the ‘Ibiza case’, a corruption scandal that engulfed Kurz’s ultranationalist coalition partners, the FPÖ.

The fall of the government comes after the Chancellor Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) won the European elections on Sunday with 34.9% of the vote.

The coalition formed in December 2017 by Kurz with the ultra-nationalists was thrown into crisis on May 19 by a controversial video recorded in Ibiza in the summer of 2017.

In those that secretly recorded video, published by two German publications the previous day, the then vice chancellor and former head of the FPÖ Heinz Christian Strache is seen promising political favors and public contracts to a supposed Russian millionaire in exchange for illegal donations for his party.

In the vote today, 110 deputies voted in favour of removing Kurz and his cabinet of ministers, including four independent experts who replaced four FPÖ ministers last week.

Only 71 parliamentarians, including 61 from the ÖVP and 10 from the opposition Liberal Party Neos, voted to keep the government in place until early elections in September.

Two independent deputies abstained.

During the parliamentary debate, Kurz accused the FPÖ and the Social Democrat SPÖ of acting out of “wishes for revenge” and said that “nobody in the country can understand” the motion.

It is the first time that an Austrian Government has been dismissed since 1945.

The country’s president, Alexander van der Bellen, will now appoint a new transitional executive and a head of government until the early elections, which are likely to be held in September.

The publication of the Strache video generated a chain reaction that has ended up causing the most serious political crisis in Austria of the last seven decades.

After Strache resigned from his posts in the party and as vice chancellor, Kurz tried to maintain the coalition with the FPÖ , which fell apart after it also forced the departure of the controversial interior minister, Herbert Kickl.

Kurz, meanwhile, has defended the work done by the Executive in the 17 months that has been active and, already in electoral mode, has assured in recent days that only he and his party can guarantee stability

 

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