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situation report

May 18, 2019 | 21:09 GMT

1 min read

Austria: Corruption Scandal Prompts Chancellor to Call for an Early Election

What Happened: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on May 18 called for an early election after his vice chancellor was caught on video discussing state contracts with a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece, Reuters reported.

Why It Matters: Kurz's move pulls the plug on Austria's governing coalition between his center-right People's Party and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache's far-right Freedom Party just a week before European Parliament elections, and is a blow to one of Europe's most successful anti-immigrant, nationalist parties. The Freedom Party is a major part of a new nationalist grouping that aims to score record gains in the European vote.

Background: Kurz formed a coalition with the Freedom Party a year and a half ago. He told a news conference on May 18 that talks with remaining Freedom Party officials showed they were not willing to make the changes Kurz felt necessary to continue the current coalition.

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