- Title: Austria's Kurz says stepping down as chancellor
- Date: 9th October 2021
- Summary: VIENNA, AUSTRIA (FILE - OCTOBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS) KURZ ARRIVING AND SHAKING HANDS WITH AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT ALEXANDER VAN DER BELLEN CAMERAS KURZ LISTENING KURZ AND VAN DER BELLEN / KURZ LEAVING VIENNA, AUSTRIA (FILE - MAY 19, 2021) (REUTERS) KURZ ARRIVING AT "SCHWEIZERHAUS" BEER GARDEN KURZ SITTING AT TABLE WITH AUSTRIAN TOURISM MINISTER ELISABETH KOESTINGER, STATE SECRETARY ANDREA MAYR AND VICE CHANCELLOR WERNER KOGLER BACK OF WAITER'S VEST READING (German): "Schweizerhaus Team" / KURZ SPEAKING TO MEDIA KURZ SPEAKING TO MEDIA SIGN READING (German): "Schweizerhaus" VARIOUS OF KURZ SPEAKING TO MEDIA
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2021 20:52
- Keywords: Austria Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Austrian People's Party Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg The Greens Vienna investigation perjury scandal
- Location: VIENNA, AUSTRIA / BRDO NEAR KRANJ, SLOVENIA
- City: VIENNA, AUSTRIA / BRDO NEAR KRANJ, SLOVENIA
- Country: Austria
- Topics: Europe,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA005EYFSXMV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Saturday (October 9) he is stepping down after being placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption offenses, but he plans to stay on as the leader of his party and its top lawmaker in parliament.
Kurz denies wrongdoing 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 Kurz unfit to serve chancellor and called on his party to name a successor who was "beyond reproach."
The Greens began talks on Friday (October 8) with Austria's three opposition parties, which have all demanded that Kurz resign and plan to submit one or more no-confidence motions against him at a special session of parliament on Tuesday (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," 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 Schallenberg.
Austrian media reports before Kurz's announcement had said he would step down only temporarily. While Kurz did not say that he did say he would mount a legal defense: "Above all ... I will of course use the opportunity to refute and disprove the accusations that have been made against me."
Prosecutors' suspicion is that, starting in 2016 when Kurz was seeking to take over as party leader, the conservative-led Finance Ministry paid for advertisements in a newspaper in exchange for polling and coverage favourable to Kurz.
Kurz was already under investigation on suspicion of perjury in a separate case, in which he also denies wrongdoing.
Kurz has been chairman of the Austrian People's Party since May 2017. At 35, he is the youngest head of government in the world and the youngest chancellor in Austrian history.
(Production: Roberto Esparza, Michael Fiorentino)
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