Austrian far-right party leader Hofer resigns

FILE - In this Saturday, May 18, 2019 file photo then Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (Austrian Freedom Party) addresses the media during press conference at the sport ministry in Vienna, Austria. Austria's far-right Freedom Party on Friday expelled Heinz-Christian Strache, its longtime leader and the country's former vice chancellor - months after a scandal that ended the party's time in government. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber, file) (Michael Gruber, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BERLIN – The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party said Tuesday he is stepping down, raising the possibility that he could run for president of the Alpine nation next year.

Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported that Norbert Hofer would resign as party chief, a post he assumed after a 2019 scandal involving a leading member of the Freedom Party that resulted in it being ejected from the last government.

Hofer lost the 2016 election for the largely ceremonial post of Austrian president against Alexander Van der Bellen.

Austrian media have speculated that Hofer might be put forward again as candidate by the Freedom Party in next year's presidential election, though he hasn't publicly confirmed such plans.

The Freedom Party's parliamentary leader, Herbert Kickl, has been tipped as a possible successor as the head of the party.