Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigns. He‘s under fire for a corruption scandal.
The Greens, the coalition partner of Kurz’s own ÖVP, had asked the ÖVP to put forward someone else as Chancellor. That‘s happening now: Kurz makes way for Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. A vote of no confidence against Kurz would be put to the vote in parliament on Tuesday.
Kurz announced his resignation at a press conference. He insists he is innocent but said he is now stepping down in the country’s best interests. The pandemic has not yet been overcome and the economic recovery has not yet been underway, he said. In such a situation, he believes that chaos and instability should not arise. He remains party leader and takes a seat in parliament.
“This step is not an easy one for me,” Kurz said at the press conference:
At the beginning of this week, the police raided the Kanzleramt, the Chancellor‘s office, the Ministry of Finance which is also run by his party and ÖVP headquarters.
“The prosecutor says it has collected all sorts of evidence that Kurz and a small club of confidants committed serious political fraud in 2016,” says correspondent Wouter Zwart. Kurz was Secretary of State at the time but wanted to be Chancellor. Government money would have been used at that time to buy positive reports about Kurz from a newspaper. It came there. Kurz managed to put aside his own party leader, became a party leader himself, won the election and became Chancellor.
Apart from Kurz, people around him have become involved in the scandal. “There are senior officials who are now suspected,” says Zwart.
Kurz’s party has been supportive of him and is still doing so now. Kurz was the party‘s political prodigy. At 24 he served as Secretary of State and Foreign Minister three years later. At the end of 2017, he became Chancellor, similar to Prime Minister’s position in the Netherlands.