Picture Credit: CEN
The wife of Austria’s far-right former Vice-Chancellor who has resigned in the wake of the “Ibiza-gate” scandal has now allegedly dumped him.
Austria’s government coalition of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) collapsed earlier this week after Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPO) was dismissed from his post by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (OVP).
When Kurz also dismissed Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPO) from his post to ensure that a neutral minister would oversee an upcoming investigation into the affair, all other FPO ministers resigned their post as well, triggering new elections.
The political scandal started after German media released a video secretly recorded two years ago of a meeting on the Spanish party island of Ibiza between Strache, who also was the FPO party chief, the party’s deputy leader Johann Gudenus and a woman posing as Alyona Makarova, a niece of Russian oligarch Igor Makarov.
In the meeting, Strache, 49 allegedly offered the woman business contracts and other political favours in exchange for support in the 2017 elections.
One idea allegedly pitched by Strache and Gudenus was for Makarov to buy a stake in Austria’s biggest and most influential tabloid ‘Krone’ and to use it as a propaganda tool to drum up support for the FPO.
The release of the footage showing the alleged corruption and intervening in the country’s media caused a shock in Austrian political circles and society.
Strache’s wife Philippa, reportedly 31, is said to have been angered by her husband’s behaviour and has now even moved out of their house.
According to family friends, she took their son Hendrik and moved back in with her parents.
Philippa said: “I want and must be strong now for my son. He gives me an unearthly amount of strength.”
She said that her husband must now deal with the consequences of his behaviour.
Philippa said: “He has to stand by and live with the bitter consequences.”
She added that she is still “in shock” and has “to collect my thoughts first”.
Philippa, a former model and TV presenter, first met Strache in 2014 at a birthday party.
They were married in 2016, with their son Hendrik being born on 1st January 2019. Heinz-Christian Strache also has two children from a previous marriage.
In the last few years, she worked as the FPO party spokeswoman on animal welfare, an issue which is close to her heart.
Strache publicly apologised to his wife during the press conference in which he offered his resignation.
He said he “tried to impress the attractive hostess with macho behaviour”. He added: “I behaved embarrassingly, like a teenager”.
Strache said: “With that, I have deeply hurt the most important person in my life. Namely my wife.
“Dear Philippa, I know that you are watching now. I can understand that you are hurt and disappointed. I hope you can forgive me, because I am truly sorry and I want to wholeheartedly apologise to you.”
According to local media, there might be more problems for Strache in the near future as there are rumours circulating of another secretly filmed “spicy video” of him.