Embattled Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Resigns
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, among the youngest of world leaders, has resigned among continuing allegations of corruption.
In a televised address, the 35-year-old premier denied the allegations against him but recommended leadership be handed to Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. He said he would stay on as head of his party and take the position of leader of his conservative bloc in parliament.
“My country is more important to me than my person,” he said. “I want to make space to prevent chaos and ensure stability.”
Pressure had been building on Kurz since his offices, the headquarters of his Austrian People’s Party and the Finance Ministry were raided in recent days. Prosecutors said the chancellor and nine of his close associates were being investigated on criminal charges including breach of trust, corruption and bribery.
Kurz became the youngest head of government in the world when he took office as chancellor in 2017 at age 31. He mixed sleek, media-savvy flair with populist rhetoric.
But investigations are looking at whether his rise was bolstered by illegal means.
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Between 2016 and 2018, he and members of his inner circle are accused of being involved in using federal funds to pay for polling that appeared favorable to Kurz — and was published in the media without being declared as advertising.
It is the latest in several scandals to tarnish the Austrian chancellor.
His last government was toppled in 2019 when the “Ibiza Scandal” triggered a breakup with his far-right coalition partner. He became the country’s first postwar chancellor to be removed in a vote of no confidence.
Kurz made his political comeback in snap elections — returning as chancellor early last year — but investigators have continued to probe corruption allegations. Last month, he was questioned for more than five hours over allegations that he committed perjury by lying to a parliamentary committee, a charge that can bring a prison sentence.