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The Latest: Merkel urges rejection of populism

May 18, 2019
Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Latest on Austrian politics (all times local):

7 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out against "right-wing populism" following a scandal involving Austria's vice chancellor apparently offering government contracts to an allegedly wealthy Russian woman.

Speaking Saturday with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Merkel said the EU had to "stand up decisively" to populists and accused right-wing parties of "corruptibility."

Merkel spoke ahead of the elections to the European Parliament that are being held Thursday through Sunday. Nationalist and populist movements critical of the 28-country European Union are contesting the election against mainstream center-right and center-left parties that want more European cooperation and integration.

Austrian vice chancellor Heinz-Chritian Strache resigned Saturday after two German publications published video of him apparently promising a Russian investor government contracts in return for her purchasing a newspaper and supporting his anti-immigrant Freedom Party.

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2:35 p.m.

Austria is waiting for a statement from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz about the future of the country's government after his vice chancellor and coalition partner Heinz-Christian Strache resigned in a covert video scandal.

Strache quit Saturday after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.

The resignation raises the question of whether Kurz and his center-right People's Party will take a replacement in the cabinet from Strache's anti-immigrant Freedom Party and continue their coalition. Alternatively, Kurz could call a new election.

Kurz was expected to speake after 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) the APA news agency reported.

Meanwhile, several thousand government opponents demonstrated on Vienna's Ballhausplatz in front of the chancellor's office.

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12:45 p.m.

Austrian vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache says he is resigning after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.

Strache said Saturday in a statement before assembled journalists that he was illegally set up in a "political assassination," but added his behavior in the video was "stupid and a mistake."

The scandal has led to speculation about the future of the governing coalition between Strache's anti-immigration Freedom Party and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's center-right People's Party.

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11:50 a.m.

Austria's vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is expected to make a statement about his political future after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.

The dpa news agency reported Saturday Strache was expected to address the issue at a news conference at noon local time (1000 GMT) Saturday.

The scandal has led to speculation about the future of the governing coalition between Strache's anti-immigration Freedom Party and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's center-right People's Party. Neither Strache nor Kurz have commented publicly.

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the weekly Der Spiegel on Friday published extracts of covert video purportedly showing Strache offering government contracts to an unnamed Russian woman if she were to buy an Austrian newspaper and support his party.

 
 

 

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