Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigns amid corruption scandal
Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz said he was stepping down from his office Saturday evening, days after his office was raided by Austrian prosecutors investigating him and close team members on suspicion of bribery and breach of trust.
Kurz, speaking in a televised address on Austrian television said, “I want to make space to guarantee stability.”
However, the 35-year-old Chancellor said the corruption allegations against him were “wrong” and denied that he had used government money for political purposes.
Kurz said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg would become the new chancellor, according to public broadcaster ORF.
The corruption allegations against Kurz have caused a crisis in the Austrian government. Before Kurz’s resignation Saturday, opposition parties had threatened to bring a vote of no confidence against him in parliament on Tuesday.
Elected to the chancellorship in 2017, Kurz shrewdly turned one of Europe’s biggest crises — the refugee influx of 2015 — into a vote-winner at the ballot box.
Kurz arrived in power just as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grip in neighboring Germany appeared to be weakening. He seemed keen to dismantle at least some of her welcoming approach to migrants and take the continent down a more hardline path, despite insisting regularly on his support for the European project.
His party was the driving force behind a law banning full-face Muslim veils in public spaces in 2017.