“Today, two days after the election, I announce with a heavy heart that I will suspend my party membership until the legal clarification of the accusations.” (Heinz-Christian Strache, October 1, 2019) 

When journalists hear that a scandal-embroiled politician wants “to make a personal statement,” they come in droves. Even more so when he’s the former vice-chancellor. And so they did yesterday. According to various twitterers and journos, the wine bar was full to bursting.

Ever punctual, Heinz-Christian Strache had arrived by 10:25 – five minutes early. He carefully arranged the many microphones placed in front of and then opened with the words: “All right. I’d like to welcome everyone. When I look around, I’ve got to admit: I’ve missed you all in the last couple of weeks and months.”

Slander and campaigns

He then spoke of “massive slander and campaigns” against him and the FPÖ. “As for the accusations made against me so far, I can only assure you that they are false.” Strache wants to make statements exclusively to the investigating authorities and asked for “no prejudgement” from the public. He stressed that after the Ibiza affair, he had resigned from all functions and, in doing so, paid “the highest possible price”. Nevertheless, he apologized again for his “mistakes”. The worst thing for him, he said, was that he had disappointed his voters.

“I’ve dedicated most of my life to the Freedom Party. My Freedom Party family has been able to rely on me for the last 15 years, as I have on them. Today, two days after the election, I announce with a heavy heart that I will suspend my party membership until the legal clarification of the accusations. I do this with the request that cohesion is maintained among the Freedom Party family.”

“A little disappointed”

Allusions to criticism of party functionaries Norbert Hofer and Herbert Kickl could be heard between the lines. Strache said it’s important that all sides are heard in an argument and that he was “a little disappointed” that a certain conversation he had been seeking with the party leadership for some time had not been held with him.

The former vice-chancellor also stated that his family had been threatened and insulted and the only way to guarantee their protection is “through his complete withdrawal from politics and thus from public life”. He said he is ending all political activity and he “no longer aspires to any office or political function”. Strache said he will be there for his two older children from a previous marriage, his wife and his son of 9 months.

In the end, he apologized to the journalists present for “this or that insult,” which was probably a referral to the Ibiza video in which he called the press the “biggest whores on the planet”.

Strache “suspended”

Party leader Hofer also held a press conference yesterday, during his party’s executive committee meeting. He said that former party leader Strache would be “suspended” – the committee had not agreed to a full expulsion. They were waiting for the accusations against Strache to be confirmed or disproved. The former Minister of the Interior, Herbert Kickl, is to be the head of the party’s parliamentary club.

The Facebook page “HC Strache,” with almost 800,000 followers, is no longer listed in the category “Politician” but as a “Brand”.

(foto credit: © Parlamentsdirektion / PHOTO SIMONIS)

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