Austria's Kurz steps down as Chancellor but will lead party

Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who is under investigation on suspicion of corruption offences, leaves after giving a statement at the federal chancellery in Vienna, Austria October 9, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on October 9 that he is stepping down after being placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption offences, but he plans to stay on as the leader of his party and its top lawmaker in Parliament.

Mr. Kurz denies wrong doing and had said he was willing to keep governing with his coalition partner, the Greens. But the left-wing party has said the investigation makes Mr. Kurz unfit to serve as Chancellor and called on his party to name a successor who was "beyond reproach".

The Greens began talks on October 8 with Austria's three opposition parties, which have all demanded that Mr. Kurz resign and plan to submit one or more no-confidence motions against him at a special session of Parliament on October 12. For a motion to pass, the Greens must support it.

"I would therefore like to make way in order to end the stalemate, to prevent chaos and to ensure stability," Mr. Kurz said in a statement to the media.

He added that he planned to stay on as party leader and to take over as the leader of its lawmakers in Parliament. As party leader, he was proposing Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg to succeed him as Chancellor, he said.

The Greens have yet to say whether they would accept Mr. Schallenberg.

Austrian media reports before Mr. Kurz's announcement had said that he would step down only temporarily. While Mr. Kurz did not confirm the reports he did say that he would mount a legal defence — "Above all ... I will of course use the opportunity to refute and disprove the accusations that have been made against me."

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 6:40:12 AM |

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