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Video scandal prompts Austrian chancellor to call for early election


Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has resigned his post amid a video scandal. (Michael Gruber/AP)

A shocking political scandal has rocked Austria, and the chancellor is demanding an early election.

Freedom Party vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned Saturday after a video that showed him apparently vowing to steer government contracts to a Russian investor was released.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he would call on president Alexander Van der Bellen to hold a new election “as soon as possible.”

Strache’s quitting tarnishes the far-right Freedom Party, which favors tighter immigration policies. The scandal comes just days before voting commences in 28 European Union countries to fill the European Parliament.

While Strache apologized for his misdeed, calling it “stupid, irresponsible and a mistake,” he claimed to have been the victim of framing in a “political assassination” that employed illegal surveillance equipment.

The sting operation allegedly involved a woman whom Strache referred to as an “attractive host” he was eager to impress. He tried to pin more blame on getting drunk and behaving like a teenager.

On Saturday, Kurz siad talks with other officials from the Freedom Party showed they were unwilling to makes changes Kurz believes are vital to continue the current coalition, reported The Associated Press.

While no date has been offered for the Austrian vote, the country’s national station reported that analysts thought September was doable.