Austria’s Sebastian Kurz Steps Down as Chancellor Amid Corruption Probe

BERLIN—Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz explained he would move down subsequent accusations of corruption fewer than two several years right after his re-election.

Mr. Kurz’s departure is the hottest blow for conservatives in Western Europe, who have been having difficulties in recent several years. Germany’s Christian Democratic Union lost a countrywide election final month right after top the authorities for the previous sixteen several years beneath Chancellor Angela Merkel. Conservatives are in the opposition from France to Spain and Portugal.

“In the previous days, I was accused of prison acts,” Mr. Kurz explained at a news conference Saturday night time at the seat of the Chancellery in Vienna. “These accusations go back again to 2016. They are fake, and I’m persuaded I will be ready to make clear the subject.”

Mr. Kurz explained he experienced minor selection but to move down because his coalition companion, the environmental Greens, experienced signaled they would no lengthier assist a authorities with him as chancellor.

Mr. Kurz explained he experienced proposed International Minister Alexander Schallenberg, a fellow conservative, replace him as chancellor. Mr. Kurz explained he would continue being chairman of his Austrian People’s Celebration and hold his seat in parliament.

Austrian prosecutors specialised in corruption matters this 7 days explained they experienced searched the chancellery and the places of work of Mr. Kurz’s party as nicely as other authorities places of work Wednesday. They explained they were being investigating Mr. Kurz and nine other individuals for possible breach of believe in.

The investigation focuses on the suspicion that finance ministry money were being utilised in between 2016 and 2018 to pay back for the publication of manipulated view polls that favored an unnamed party in an Austrian newspaper, the prosecutors explained right after the raids Wednesday.

Mr. Kurz has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

On Saturday, Mr. Kurz explained the accusations in opposition to him were being centered on misleading text messages he experienced prepared several years back, some of which were being posted in the Austrian media a short while ago.

He explained these experienced been prepared in the warmth of the second, including, “I’m also just a human getting with emotions and mistakes.”

For the previous 4 several years, Mr. Kurz has stood as a rare star of an or else ailing European conservative motion. He became chancellor in 2017 right after successful his 1st election as chief of his party, but he disbanded his coalition with the far-correct Flexibility party in May well 2019 right after the latter was associated in a different corruption scandal.

Right after successful a subsequent election in September 2019, Mr. Kurz formed a new coalition with the Greens.

Create to Bertrand Benoit at [email protected]

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Appeared in the Oct 11, 2021, print version as ‘Austria Chancellor Techniques Down Amid Probe.’