Austrian Vice-Chancellor and far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache resigned from the government after revelations of "compromising ties" with Russia involving the award of public contracts in return for financial support.
"I introduced Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to resign as Vice Chancellor and he accepted," Heinz-Christian Strache told a news conference, saying he had made a "mistake" that he did not want to be a "pretext for undermining the coalition" .
Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the far-right FPÖ party, formed a government with conservative chancellor Sebastian Kurz in December 2017.
Strache was taped to promise an alleged niece of a Russian millionaire the award of public contracts in return for financial support, the media reported.
According to information released on Friday by two German newspapers, the outgoing deputy chancellor was filmed by a hidden camera to talk to a woman, a few months before the Austrian parliamentary elections of 2017, about the possibility of financial and media support FPÖ in exchange for the award of public contracts.
The German titles Süddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel reported that Heinz-Christian Strache met this woman because he believed that she would have links to an influential Russian oligarch.
Just a few days before the European elections, which take place on May 26, this scandal is shaking the Austrian right-wing and the government coalition led by Sebastian Kurz, leader of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP, conservative).
The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) is probably the oldest left-wing nationalist party in the European Union, founded in 1956 by a former SS official and avowedly nationalist, conservative and Eurosceptic.
According to the most recent projections for the European elections, the FPÖ registered 23.5% of the voting intentions, which could represent the election of five MEPs.
Austria elects 18 of the 751 MEPs.