He wants to “make room to prevent chaos” – with these words Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigns. The office is to be taken over by the previous Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. The move follows a corruption investigation against Kurz. It’s about allegedly bought media coverage.
Sebastian Kurz has announced his resignation as Austrian Chancellor. The ÖVP politician announced the move after prosecutors named him as a suspect in a corruption case involving allegedly purchased media coverage. Without the withdrawal, a break in the coalition between the ÖVP and the Greens, which Kurz had declared incapable of action, would have threatened. “My country is more important to me than myself,” he said.
He wanted to “make room to prevent chaos and ensure stability,” said Kurz. However, he did not announce a complete withdrawal from politics. He will remain the ÖVP boss and move to parliament as a parliamentary group leader, he said. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) should take over his office as Chancellor.
On Wednesday, investigators searched the Federal Chancellery and the party headquarters of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), among other things. According to the public prosecutor’s office for business and corruption, Kurz’s close colleagues are suspected of having bought well-meaning reporting in a media company in order to pave the way for Kurz to become party leaders and the Federal Chancellery from 2016 onwards. For this money from the Ministry of Finance is said to have been misappropriated. The investigators see in Kurz a participant in the crimes of infidelity and corruption. The 35-year-old has denied all allegations.
The Greens, as coalition partners of the ÖVP, had declared Kurz no longer fit for office and demanded his withdrawal – as a condition for the continuation of the cooperation. If Kurz had not resigned, opposition parties would have tabled a vote of no confidence on Tuesday. A few votes from the Greens would have been enough for a majority.
The conservative green government under Kurz was sworn in at the beginning of 2020. Before that, Kurz had ruled with the right-wing FPÖ from 2017 to 2019. The 52-year-old Schallenberg has been jointly responsible for Austria’s foreign policy in top positions for years. The multilingual, internationally experienced diplomat is just as tough on migration issues as Kurz.