Mr Kurz announced the snap ballot would take place as a matter of urgency, putting the nation’s political future – and his own – in jeopardy. He said: “After yesterday’s video, enough is enough.” He added Austria would hold a snap general election “as soon as possible” during a shock announcement in Vienna.
The announcement came as far-right Freedom Party leader and Austria Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache was filmed in a video that showed him promising government contracts to a woman claiming to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.
The video, from 2017, has raised concerns whether Russia had a direct line into the Austrian government.
It also aroused speculation that Strache had been actively working to undermine liberal democracy and freedom of the press while helping the more conservative Mr Kurz govern the country.
Mr Kurz has promoted pleas to end his controversial coalition with the Freedom Party following its well-documented links to far-right extremists and Russia, the New York Times reports.
The scandal comes as the EU is desperately trying to stamp out far-right and populist movements, which threaten the bloc’s existence.
Only today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a plea for all of Europe to fight back against far-right movements.
The chancellor condemned the rise of populism – a political movement that strives to appeal to the average Joe and fight the elite – in Europe and accused far-right parties of destroying the core values of the EU.
She said: “We’re having to deal with populist movements that in many areas are contemptuous of these values, who want to destroy the Europe of our values.
“We have to stand up to this decisively. What falls under this is that minorities are not protected, that basic human rights are called into question and that corruption plays a role in politics.”
She herself has kept a low-profile during campaigning for next week’s EU parliamentary election, while the Brexit Party was reported earlier this week to have more backing in the UK than the Tory and Labour parties combined.
Mrs Merkel has left the most vocal election campaigning to fellow countryman Manfred Weber, the top conservative candidate in the May 23 election.