Governments fall in Austria and Israel

In further fallout from the ‘Ibizagate’ scandal, the Austrian Parliament voted in favour of a measure proposed by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) to oust Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his Austrian People’s Party (OVP) in a vote of no-confidence. President Alexander Van der Bellen has appointed the current President of Austria’s constitutional court Brigitte Bierlein as interim Chancellor until the September election.

A poll last week showed most Austrians did not want to see Mr. Kurz removed from office. In European Parliament elections on Sunday, the FPO finished first in Austria with 35 percent, followed by the SPD at 24 percent, and the FPO at 18 percent. Despite stepping down as leader of the FPO, Heinz-Christian Strache also won his seat with 33,000 ‘preference votes’, in which the system enables voters to specify their preference for a candidate on a particular party list. It remains unclear whether Mr. Strache will accept his seat.

Mr. Strache has filed a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor's office in Vienna against "three persons identified as possible accomplices" involved in the leaked Ibiza video footage that forced him to resign. It is too early to tell whether the FPO will make gains in the September election, as there are unverified suspicions that Mr. Kurz or the OVP may have had knowledge or involvement in the Ibiza setup, which may impact voter decisions.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has failed to form a governing coalition by the deadline and on Wednesday the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and hold an election seven weeks after the last. This is the first time in 71 years of statehood that Israel has had to repeat an election due to a failure by the chosen party leader to form a government.

The new election will take place on September 17. Friction between Yisrael Beiteinu (YB) Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and the Hassidic faction of ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism (UTJ) prevented coalition government negotiations from being successful.

Mr. Lieberman submitted a draft bill last term that would require yeshiva students, who are currently exempt from Israel's otherwise mandatory conscription, to draft to the Israeli military. Mr. Lieberman's condition for joining the coalition was that the draft law pass as-is, whereas UTJ would not join if the law was not amended. PM Netanyahu failed to mediate between them before the deadline given to him by the president, making it impossible for him to form a coalition.

PM Netanyahu Likud party put forth a bill to dissolve the Knesset, whose passage enabled the government to circumvent the possibility of President Reuven Rivlin giving the mandate to form a government to a different candidate.