The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party leader and Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned Saturday afternoon amid a growing scandal. A leaked video showed Strache offering valuable government contracts in exchange for campaign contributions from a wealthy Russian.
Strache admitted his actions and called them “dumb, irresponsible and a mistake,” according to Politico. He also said that the leak came from his political enemies in order to get rid of him.
“It was a carefully planned political assassination,” Strache said in a press statement in Vienna. Austria’s infrastructure minister and near-winner of the presidency in 2016 Norbert Hofer will replace Strache as Freedom Party head.
Thousands of Austrians protested at Vienna’s Ballhausplatz on Saturday afternoon as they waited for Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to speak about the scandal. It was not known what Kurz would say, but the Chancellor could call for a snap election to replace Strache.
The resignation comes only a week before critical European elections and could hurt the Freedom Party’s chances against the socialists. Socialist candidates are already using the scandal in their speeches and final pitches ahead of the election.
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