Austria’s far-right vice chancellor quits amid scandal. A Jewish leader calls it a validation for the community.


(JTA) — Austria’s vice chancellor, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party, has resigned over an alleged corruption scandal.

The resignation Saturday of Heinz-Christian Strache as vice chancellor and party chief illustrated why the Jewish community had distanced itself from the party, the community’s leader said in a Facebook post.

“The resignations and the end of the Freedom Party’s government participation are a validation of the Jewish community, but also a powerful validation of independent and critical journalism,” Oskar Deutsch wrote.

Deutsch said there have been more than 70 anti-Semitic, right-wing and neo-Nazi incidents since the Freedom Party came to power.

“Unfortunately, our fears have been confirmed regularly,” he said.

Continuing to have a no-contact policy with the Freedom Party “wasn’t always easy, but as Jewish community we always have to do the right thing. Both the Torah and Jewish history teach us that.”

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, head of the conservative Austrian People’s Party, called a snap election Sunday in the wake of the Strache’s resignation.

A video of Strache published by the German media on Friday shows him offering public contracts to a woman who claims to be a wealthy Russian national planning to buy a 50 percent stake in Austria’s Kronen-Zeitung newspaper. In exchange, the newspaper would provide favorable media coverage of his party.

The video reportedly was filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza in July 2017.

Strache told the German newspapers Der Spiegel and the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the recorded conversation took place in a “loose, informal, and boozy holiday atmosphere” and without the services of a professional translator, creating a language barrier. He said he stressed the “necessity of conforming to Austrian law,” and that there was some macho bravado involved in trying to impress the attractive heiress.

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