The “Ibiza affair” scandal appears to have been the last straw for Kurz after a string of controversies over extremist sympathies among officials from Strache’s Freedom Party (FPOe).
“Even if I didn’t express myself publicly at the time, there were many situations that I found difficult to swallow,” Kurz said of his time in government with the FPOe since December 2017.
Now, Austria set for early elections on September 29.
The date for early elections triggered by the so-called “Ibiza-gate” scandal which brought down Austria’s government has been fixed for September 29, following a decision by a parliamentary commission Tuesday.
The snap poll was prompted by the decision of centre-right Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to end his coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) after a video emerged last month of FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache appearing to offer public contracts in return for campaign help from a fake Russian backer.
While Kurz and President Alexander Van der Bellen favoured a date in early September for the elections, the FPOe and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPOe) pushed for the September 29 date.
Together the FPOe and SPOe have a majority in parliament, which will now have to formally confirm the date.
– Kurz comeback? –
Both parties lost vote share at May’s European elections and have made no secret of their wish for more time to prepare themselves for national elections.
Kurz and his People’s Party (OeVP), by contrast, won a thumping victory at the European elections and have a commanding lead in the polls, with one survey last week putting them at 38 percent, compared to just 23 percent for the SPOe and 17 for the FPOe.
If 32-year-old Kurz remains in such a commanding position at the end of the campaign he may be able to form a new coalition with either the liberal NEOS party or the Greens, both on nine percent in the same poll.
Two weeks ago the FPOe and SPOe both voted for a no-confidence motion which saw Kurz’s government removed from office.