Take the pledge to vote

For a better tommorow#AajSawaroApnaKal
  • I agree to receive emails from News18

  • I promise to vote in this year's elections no matter what the odds are.
  • Please check above checkbox.


Thank you for
taking the pledge

Vote responsibly as each vote counts
and makes a diffrence


Issued in public interest by HDFC Life. HDFC Life Insurance Company Limited (Formerly HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited) (“HDFC Life”). CIN: L65110MH2000PLC128245, IRDAI Reg. No. 101 . The name/letters "HDFC" in the name/logo of the company belongs to Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited ("HDFC Limited") and is used by HDFC Life under an agreement entered into with HDFC Limited. ARN EU/04/19/13618
LIVE TV DownloadNews18 App
News18 English
Powered by cricketnext logo
2-min read

Austrian Far-right Leader Steps Down over Video Sting as Coalition Teeters

Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache is seen in a video speaking to a woman, who poses as the niece of a Russian oligarch, and appearing to offer to funnel contracts towards a company in exchange for political and financial support.


Updated:May 18, 2019, 6:10 PM IST
Austrian Far-right Leader Steps Down over Video Sting as Coalition Teeters
A file photo of Austria's Vice Chancellor and head of Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache. (Reuters)

Vienna: Austria's vice chancellor and longtime far-right leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said on Saturday he was stepping down over "catastrophic" video footage of him that threatened to bring down the right-wing coalition government.

Freedom Party (FPO) leader Strache was shown in the footage of as-yet unknown origin meeting a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch in 2017, shortly before the election that brought him to power.

In the footage published by German media on Friday evening, a week before European Parliament elections, he appears to offer to funnel contracts towards a company in exchange for political and financial support.

"It was dumb, it was irresponsible and it was a mistake," Strache said, fighting back tears as he asked his wife and others to forgive him. He maintained, however, that he had done nothing illegal and that it was a "targeted political assassination".

"In the cold light of day, my remarks were catastrophic and exceedingly embarrassing," he said about the video in which he also referred to party financing rules and how to work around them, but also insisted on having to act legally.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is expected to make a statement later on Saturday as speculation swirled about whether the damage would be limited to Strache or if Kurz would call a snap election only a year and a half after the coalition between his conservatives and the FPO was formed.

Kurz has repeatedly distanced himself from the FPO over lesser scandals, mostly ones involving party officials and anti-Semitism or racism, to protect his popularity.

In an at-times rambling defence of his behaviour, he also apologised for flirting with the woman, whom he describes as attractive in the recording.

"It was typical alcohol-fuelled macho behaviour in which, yes, I also wanted to impress the attractive female host and I behaved like a bragging teenager," he said.

Strache said he would be replaced by Transport Minister Norbert Hofer, his deputy within the party who narrowly lost 2016's presidential election and is more popular than Strache.

"I do not in any circumstances want my wrong behaviour to provide a pretext for the government to collapse," Strache said.

Opposition parties including the Social Democrats, the liberal Neos party and the Greens called for a snap election. A crowd of hundreds with left-wing placards and banners gathered on the square outside Kurz's office, chanting "Snap elections now!".

Kurz's coalition options are limited. Although his party remains in the lead in opinion polls it is still well short of a majority. The only party other than the FPO with enough seats to form a majority is the Social Democrats, with which Kurz has difficult relations.

Although he and the FPO share a hard line on immigration and he brought the far right into government, he has also been at pains to protect his image as a pro-European centrist, particularly abroad.

Read full article
Next Story
Next Story

Also Watch


Live TV

Countdown To Elections Results
  • 01 d
  • 12 h
  • 38 m
  • 09 s
To Assembly Elections 2018 Results