Austrian chancellor steps down to save coalition amid corruption probe – National

Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned on Saturday to tug his coalition authorities again from the brink of collapse after the junior social gathering demanded his head as a result of he has been positioned underneath investigation on suspicion of corruption.

The transfer by Kurz, who denies wrongdoing, happy his coalition associate, the Greens, and got here simply three days earlier than a particular session of parliament at which they had been getting ready to again a movement of no-confidence that may have pressured him out.

On the identical time, his resignation is extra a matter of kind than substance when it comes to coverage. He plans to remain on as his social gathering’s chief and change into its high lawmaker in parliament, and he’s prone to proceed to name the pictures within the coalition.

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“I’d due to this fact prefer to make manner so as to finish the stalemate, to stop chaos and to make sure stability,” Kurz mentioned in an announcement to the media.

He added that he was proposing International Minister Alexander Schallenberg, a profession diplomat backed by Kurz’s social gathering, take over as chancellor, whom the Greens quickly made clear they accepted.

“I imagine that is the suitable step for future authorities work,” Greens chief and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler mentioned in an announcement, including he had had a “very constructive” working relationship with Schallenberg and would meet him on Sunday.

A star amongst Europe’s conservatives identified for his exhausting line on immigration, Kurz, 35, turned one of many continent’s youngest leaders in 2017 when he fashioned a coalition with the far-right Freedom Celebration that collapsed in scandal in 2019. Parliament sacked him however he gained the snap election that adopted.

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He has up to now been unchallenged as chief of the Individuals’s Celebration (OVP) – he was reappointed in August with 99.4% assist.

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“This resignation isn’t an actual resignation,” political analyst Thomas Hofer mentioned. “It’s (formally) a step again into the second row however the energy within the OVP and due to this fact inside the OVP authorities group nonetheless lies with Sebastian Kurz.”

Schallenberg, 52, who labored with Kurz when Kurz was international minister earlier than he turned chancellor, is unlikely to shed the picture of a person who owes his ministerial profession to Kurz.

“In fact he’ll do nothing with out agreeing it with Sebastian Kurz beforehand. He’s one among Kurz’s closest confidants,” Hofer mentioned.

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Prosecutors have positioned Kurz and 9 others underneath investigation on suspicion of breach of belief, corruption and bribery with numerous ranges of involvement.

Beginning in 2016 when Kurz was looking for to take over as social gathering chief, prosecutors suspect the conservative-led Finance Ministry paid for manipulated polling and protection favorable to Kurz to be revealed in a newspaper.

Paperwork circulated as a part of their investigation and revealed in Austrian media additionally included embarrassing and compromising text-messages saying Kurz’s opponents say present a scarcity of scruples and underhanded techniques.

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Austrian media stories earlier than Kurz’s announcement had mentioned he would step down solely quickly. Whereas Kurz didn’t say that he did say of his future: “Above all … I’ll after all use the chance to refute and disprove the accusations which have been made in opposition to me.”

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The political penalties, each when it comes to his social gathering’s reputation and its relationship with the Greens, are unclear.

“Is it sufficient?” the chief of the liberal Neos social gathering, Beate Meinl-Reisinger, mentioned at a information convention reacting to Kurz’s announcement.

“We all know from the (investigation) paperwork that he purchased himself a celebration, that he purchased himself an election, that he manipulated and lied to folks, and he did all of it together with your tax cash.”

(Reporting by Francois Murphy, Modifying by William Maclean, Philippa Fletcher and Chris Reese) | Austrian chancellor steps down to save lots of coalition amid corruption probe – Nationwide


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