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The Latest: Austrian leader expects far right to quit gov’t

May 20, 2019
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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the Austrian People's Party, OEVP, addresses the media during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Monday, May 20, 2019. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an early election after the resignation of his vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache from the Freedom Party spelled an end to his governing coalition. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber)
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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the Austrian People's Party, OEVP, addresses the media during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Monday, May 20, 2019. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an early election after the resignation of his vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache from the Freedom Party spelled an end to his governing coalition. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber)

VIENNA (AP) — The Latest on the video scandal that’s rocked the Austrian government (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says he expects the far-right Freedom Party to leave his government as it has threatened to do.

Kurz, who has asked Austria’s president to remove Interior Minister Herbert Kickl in the wake of a corruption scandal, told reporters in Vienna that vacant positions in government would be filled with civil servants and technocrats until the next elections, which are expected in a few months.

Kickl’s party was rocked by the publication of a video last week apparently showing its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, offering a potential wealthy Russian benefactor government contracts in return for support.

Kurz’s center-right People’s Party entered into a coalition with the Freedom Party following 2017 parliamentary elections.

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6:50 p.m.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says he wants to fire interior minister over the video scandal that’s rocked the government.

Kurz told reporters in Vienna that removing Herbert Kickl of the far-right Freedom Party from his post was necessary to achieve “total transparency” in the case.

Two of Kickl’s party colleagues were caught on video apparently offering government contracts to a supposed Russian benefactor.

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9:05 a.m.

Austria’s leader is apparently preparing to force out the country’s interior minister, a prominent and divisive figure in the far-right Freedom Party, after the country’s vice chancellor resigned in a scandal over a covertly filmed video.

Conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for a new national election after Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache quit his post and the leadership of the Freedom Party on Saturday. The election is expected in September, but it remains unclear how the country will be governed until then.

For now, the Freedom Party’s ministers remain in place in Kurz’s ruling coalition.

A minister from Kurz’s party, Gernot Bluemel, told ORF television he expects that Kurz will dismiss Kickl. Bluemel cited a need to end the scandal triggered by a video in which Strache apparently offered government contracts to a Russian investor.

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