Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is likely to be forced out of office after Chancellor Sebastian Kurz reportedly ruled out continuing to work with him. Strache has been caught up in a corruption scandal, Deutsche Welle reported.
The two men were due to meet on Saturday morning, with the vice-chancellor expected to make a statement at noon, but several news agencies, citing insider sources, have reported that Kurz has already decided against continuing to work with Strache.
Strache was caught on video offering business deals to a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece, in exchange for her help boosting the news coverage of Strache’s far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).
The video, reportedly filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza in July 2017 but only disclosed on Friday evening, has triggered a crisis in the Austrian government, with opposition parties already demanding new elections.
In the video, parts of which have been released by Germany’s Der Spiegel and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a woman calling herself Alyona Makarova can be heard telling Strache and FPÖ parliamentary group leader Johann Gudenus that she is very wealthy and wants to buy as much as 50% of Austria’s largest newspaper, the Kronen Zeitung.
According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the meeting lasted several hours, with Strache and Gudenus discussing with Makarova about how secret donations and friendly media coverage could help the far-right party.
The video was apparently recorded a few months before the Austrian national election in October 2017, when the FPÖ took 26% of the vote and entered government.
Austria’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office has announced that it will review this video.