© Reuters. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who’s below investigation on suspicion of corruption offences offers an announcement on the federal chancellery in Vienna, Austria October 9, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
By Francois Murphy
VIENNA (Reuters) -Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned on Saturday to drag his coalition authorities again from the brink of collapse after the junior celebration demanded his head as a result of he has been positioned below investigation on suspicion of corruption.
The transfer by Kurz, who denies wrongdoing, happy his coalition accomplice, the Greens, and got here simply three days earlier than a particular session of parliament at which they have been getting ready to again a movement of no-confidence that might have pressured him out.
On the identical time, his resignation is extra a matter of kind than substance by way of coverage. He plans to remain on as his celebration’s chief and grow to be its prime lawmaker in parliament, and he’s more likely to proceed to name the photographs within the coalition.
“I might subsequently wish to make means with a purpose to finish the stalemate, to forestall chaos and to make sure stability,” Kurz mentioned in an announcement to the media.
He added that he was proposing Overseas Minister Alexander Schallenberg, a profession diplomat backed by Kurz’s celebration, take over as chancellor, whom the Greens quickly made clear they accepted.
“I consider that is the fitting 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 recognized for his laborious line on immigration, Kurz, 35, grew to become one of many continent’s youngest leaders in 2017 when he shaped 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.
He has to this point been unchallenged as chief of the Folks’s Celebration (OVP) – he was reappointed in August with 99.4% assist.
GONE BUT NOT
“This resignation will not be 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 subsequently throughout the OVP authorities group nonetheless lies with Sebastian Kurz.”
Schallenberg, 52, who labored with Kurz when Kurz was overseas minister earlier than he grew to become 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 in every of Kurz’s closest confidants,” Hofer mentioned.
Prosecutors have positioned Kurz and 9 others below investigation https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/prosecutors-raid-austrian-conservatives-hq-fresh-headache-kurz-2021-10-06 on suspicion of breach of belief, corruption and bribery with numerous ranges of involvement.
Beginning in 2016 when Kurz was in search of to take over as celebration chief, prosecutors suspect the conservative-led Finance Ministry paid for manipulated polling and protection beneficial to Kurz to be printed in a newspaper.
Paperwork circulated as a part of their investigation and printed in Austrian media additionally included embarrassing and compromising text-messages saying Kurz’s opponents say present an absence of scruples and underhanded techniques.
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 were made in opposition to me.”
The political penalties, each by way of his celebration’s recognition and its relationship with the Greens, are unclear.
“Is it sufficient?” the chief of the liberal Neos celebration, 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 along with your tax cash.”