Vienna, Austria (CNN)Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for snap elections after Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache from the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) resigned over allegations of corruption.
Austria's Chancellor Kurz calls for early elections after vice chancellor resigns over alleged corruption video
Germany's Der Spiegel news magazine and Süddeutsche Zeitung daily newspaper published video Friday of Strache appearing to offer government contracts to a woman who claimed to be a Russian investor and niece of an oligarch.
Kurz said at a news conference in Vienna that the FPÖ "damages the reputation of our country," announcing that he had recommended the President schedule new elections as soon as possible.
The call for early elections signaled the end of the ruling coalition of Kurz's conservative People's Party (ÖVP) with the FPÖ.
During a news conference Saturday morning, Strache denied doing "anything against the law," and labeled the allegations "a targeted political attack."
However, Strache said he wanted to "apologize to everyone I have disappointed with my behavior." He said he would also step down as head of the Freedom Party.
The scandal is the biggest crisis the coalition has faced since it was formed in 2017. Outside the chancellor's office in Vienna, more than 5,000 protesters gathered, calling for fresh elections.
"I'm here's because Strache resigned and the entire FPÖ is intolerable," Florian Gantner told CNN. "The chancellor has to react and the entire government should step down. We need a new election."
The managing director of Austria's Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) blamed Kurz for the scandal.
"He must confess to the Austrians this failure and take full responsibility for this chaos. He has brought Austria into this disastrous situation and put the stability of the country on the line," SPÖ's Thomas Drozda said in a statement.
It is not known who recorded the video or set up the meeting, which allegedly took place July 24, 2017, on the Spanish island of Ibiza, three months before the Austrian elections.
Der Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung report that the "Russian" woman offered to buy a 50% stake in Austria's Kronen Zeitung newspaper and ensure it supported the Freedom Party.
Strache admitted to meeting the woman and described it as a "private conversation" in Ibiza. He said he was "drunk" but "no donations have been made to the party" as a result of the meeting.
"It was a typical alcohol-infused macho behavior. ... With this I have hurt the most important person in my life, which is my wife," Strache said.
Kurz had accepted his resignation, Strache said. Transport Minister Norbert Hofer, who ran for president in 2016, is expected to take over from him as head of the Freedom Party.
Kurz said Strache's tactics exposed in the "despicable" video "damages the reputation of our country."
Austrian President Al