Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pulled the plug on the coalition and called for a snap election yesterday after his deputy, Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, quit over a video showed him discussing fixing state contracts in return for favours.
“It is most important that Austrians are given the chance of a new start to rebuild trust in its government”, President Alexander van der Bellen said in a statement at his Hofburg residence in Vienna.
“This new beginning should take place quickly, as quickly as the provisions of the Federal Constitution permit, so I plead for elections… in September, if possible at the beginning of September,” the president said.
Mr Strache has described the video sting as a “targeted political assassination” and said it never led to any money changing hands.
He insisted the only crime that took place was illegally videotaping a private dinner party.
Van der Bellen and Kurz said at their joint news conference that stability was a main priority for them for the coming months.
Mr Kurz repeated that he saw the snap elections as the only way to solve the crisis. “The new elections were a necessity, not a wish,” he said.
The make up of a caretaker government remained unclear a day after the 18-month-old coalition of conservatives and the eurosceptics collapsed.