The Latest: Austria leader to decide coalition govt's future

Posted on Saturday, May 18th, 2019 By The Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Latest on Austrian politics (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

Austria is waiting for a statement from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz about the future of the country's government after his vice chancellor and coalition partner Heinz-Christian Strache resigned in a covert video scandal.

Strache quit Saturday after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.

The resignation raises the question of whether Kurz and his center-right People's Party will take a replacement in the cabinet from Strache's anti-immigrant Freedom Party and continue their coalition. Alternatively, Kurz could call a new election.

Kurz was expected to speake after 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) the APA news agency reported.

Meanwhile, several thousand government opponents demonstrated on Vienna's Ballhausplatz in front of the chancellor's office.

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12:45 p.m.

Austrian vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache says he is resigning after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.

Strache said Saturday in a statement before assembled journalists that he was illegally set up in a "political assassination," but added his behavior in the video was "stupid and a mistake."

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.

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11:50 a.m.

Austria's vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is expected to make a statement about his political future after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.

The dpa news agency reported Saturday Strache was expected to address the issue at a news conference at noon local time (1000 GMT) Saturday.

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. Neither Strache nor Kurz have commented publicly.

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the weekly Der Spiegel on Friday published extracts of covert video purportedly showing Strache offering government contracts to an unnamed Russian woman if she were to buy an Austrian newspaper and support his party.

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