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Corruption scandal: Austrian Chancellor steps down

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He has proposed Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as his replacement.

Kurz and nine others were placed under investigation after raids at a number of locations linked to his conservative People’s Party (ÖVP).

He denies claims he used government money to ensure positive coverage in a tabloid newspaper.

The allegations this week took his coalition government to the brink of collapse after its junior partner, the Greens, said Kurz was no longer fit to be chancellor.

The Greens began talks with opposition parties, who were threatening to bring a vote of no confidence against the chancellor next week.

Greens leader and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler welcomed Kurz’s resignation and indicated he would be willing to work with Mr Schallenberg, saying they had a “very constructive” relationship.

“What’s required now is stability. To resolve the impasse I want to step aside to prevent chaos,” Kurz said as he announced his resignation.

He said he would remain leader of his party, and continue to sit in Parliament.

“First and foremost, however, I will of course use the opportunity to disprove the allegations against me,” he added.

Although he is no longer chancellor, Kurz will still be a major figure in Austrian politics.

As leader of his party, he will be present at Cabinet meetings. The head of the opposition Social Democrats says he will be pulling the strings as a shadow chancellor.

Other observers point to his close relationship with Alexander Schallenberg, a career diplomat who worked with Kurz when he first entered government as foreign minister.

Some members of Kurz’s party are hoping his resignation will be temporary and he will be able to stage a comeback.

Other Austrians say the two corruption investigations, and the collapse of his last coalition government with the far-right Freedom Party in 2019, mean it is time for Kurz to leave politics altogether.

Kurz became leader of the ÖVP in May 2017 and led his party to victory in elections later that year – becoming, at the age of 31, one the world’s youngest ever democratically elected heads of government.


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