Austria votes in snap elections after video sting scandal

Austria votes in snap elections after video sting scandal

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Austrians are due to vote in snap general elections on Sunday, after a video sting scandal in May collapsed the coalition government.

Opinion polls suggest former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservative People’s Party is on track to win the most votes – but will need a coalition partner.

The Social Democrats, the far-right Freedom Party, the Greens and the liberals are also in the race.

Coalition talks are widely expected to be difficult, and may last for weeks.

Polling stations across Austria will open at 07:00 local time (05:00 GMT) and close at 17:00 (03:00 GMT).

What was the video sting scandal?

The scandal toppled Mr Kurz’s government, and the former leader of his coalition partner the Freedom Party (FPÖ), Heinz-Christian Strache.

Mr Strache, Austria’s Vice-Chancellor, was caught on video promising government contracts to a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch.

The scandal was labelled “Ibiza-gate”, after the Spanish island where the video was recorded.

The FPÖ, under new leader Norbert Hofer, is hoping to renew the coalition with Mr Kurz, who still leads the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP).

But while Mr Kurz shares a tough anti-migrant line with the FPÖ, the former chancellor may opt for a three-way pact with the Greens and the liberal Neos party – a first in Austria.

A grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) is considered unlikely because of the bad relations between Mr Kurz and the centre-left leadership, the BBC’s Bethany Bell in Vienna says.__BBC

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