Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced his resignation after a Saturday night cabinet meeting following corruption investigations against him.
He is succeeded by Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
Kurz also announced that he would continue his political career as the leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) in the lower house of the Austrian parliament (Nationalrat). He said he would also keep his party leadership.
Sebastian Kurz claimed that the allegations against him were false. As he said, returning to parliamentary work, he seizes the opportunity to refute the suspicions.
He justified his resignation on the grounds that he wanted to prevent a month-long upheaval and stalemate.
“In a situation like this, personal or party interests or political calculation should not come to the fore,” he stressed. “My country is ahead of my person,” Kurz underlined, adding that he had decided to resign in order to resolve the stalemate and maintain the ÖVP / Green Party coalition.
He stated that Alexander Schallenberg had the diplomatic skills needed to restore trust between the parties.
The government crisis in Austria was caused by the fact that the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) is investigating the Chancellor’s immediate environment on suspicion of bribery and dishonesty. WKStA is trying to find out whether ÖVP manipulated the poll data published in the Österreich mass newspaper in 2016 and whether their publication was covered by public funds.
Green Party Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler on Thursday questioned Kurz’s political ability to act in the current situation, which led to a coalition crisis between the ÖVP and the coalition partner Green Party. Following the scandal, the opposition prepared to file a motion of censure against the chancellor on Tuesday.