- Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) draws conclusions from the criminal investigation: In a statement to the press, he announced his resignation as chancellor.
- Kurz was pressured by investigations by the Attorney General’s Office of Economics and Corruption.
- Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) was proposed by Kurz as interim head of government. But he wants for a while to remain the ÖVP chairman and the head of the parliamentary group.
On Saturday evening, Kurz confirmed to the media that the criminal allegations against him were false and that he would be able to clarify them. With his coalition partner, the Greens, clearly opposed, Austria is at an impasse. “In this case, in my view, it would be irresponsible to hand over the responsibility of the government to a coalition of four parties, to conduct an experiment. In my opinion what is required is stability and responsibility.”
Green Vice Chancellor welcomes Kurtz’s resignation
Austria’s ruling Green Party welcomed Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s announcement of his resignation and signaled the coalition’s continuation.
“Given the current situation, I believe this is the right step for future government action with responsibility for Austria and Austria’s reputation abroad,” Greens chief and Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler said Saturday night.
Kurz announced that the former foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg, would take over. “Cooperation with Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has been very constructive so far,” Kogler said. He will hold talks with him on Sunday.
So he wanted to make room to prevent chaos and ensure stability. However, Kurz did not announce a complete withdrawal from politics. The conservative prime minister said he would remain at the helm of the ÖVP and move to Parliament as faction leader. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) should take up his position as chancellor.
The investigations against Kurz of dishonesty, bribery and corruption, which became known a few days before the raid on the Chancellery, plunged the Green Conservative government into crisis. On Wednesday, investigators searched the Federal Chancellery and the headquarters of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), among other things.
Opposition: Shadow Adviser will stay for a short time
Sebastian Kurz’s move from the Austrian Chancellery to Parliament is, from the opposition’s point of view, a move, but not a regime change. “Sebastian Kurz is fleeing to parliamentary immunity,” said the head of the right-wing FPÖ party, Herbert Kekel. He was referring to a corruption investigation against Governor Kurz (ÖVP), which led to his resignation on Saturday night.
The opposition parties saw the fact that Kurz was still party leader and became the leader of the parliamentary group not only as a legal maneuver but also as a political maneuver. They agreed that this position would now be maintained and that the “Kurz System” would continue to exist. “For an hour, Kurz was no longer a federal chancellor, but a shadow chancellor of the republic,” said SPD leader Pamela Rende Wagner. Liberal chief Neos Beate Meinl-Reisinger said Kurz will continue to keep all leads on hand.
According to the Office of the Attorney General for Business and Corruption, Kurz’s close associates are suspected of buying well-intentioned reporting at a media company in order to pave the way for Kurz to become party leaders and federal counsel from 2016 onwards. It is said that this money from the Ministry of Finance has been embezzled. Investigators see Kurtz as a participant in the crimes of blasphemy and corruption. The 35-year-old denied all the allegations – including on Twitter.
As a partner in the coalition, the Green Party considered that the head of government was no longer fit for the position and demanded his resignation. Kurz’s withdrawal is timely: without him, a break in the alliance between the ÖVP and the Greens would have threatened. “My country is more important to me than my person,” Curtis said. With his voluntary departure, he also anticipates the motion of censure that he would have faced next Tuesday in a special session of the National Assembly.
The conservative green government led by Kurz was sworn in at the beginning of 2020. Previously, Kurz had ruled with the right-wing FPÖ party from 2017 to 2019. The 52-year-old Schallenberg had been jointly responsible for Austria’s foreign policy in senior positions for years. A multilingual diplomat with international experience is equally rigorous on immigration issues.
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