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“Neither a saint nor a criminal”: former Austrian Chancellor Kurz withdraws from politics in Austria

Former Prime Minister of Austria Sebastian KurzFor the past five years, the center-right People’s Party (ÖVP), which has dominated the political life of his country and his country, unexpectedly announced that he will leave politics.

Sleek and gentle, long regarded as a politician child prodigyAt the age of 31, Kurz became one of the youngest elected heads of government in the world 2017, But resigned as Prime Minister In october Later, he was filed for investigation on suspicion of corruption.

On Thursday, he resigned from the remaining positions of the head of ÖVP and the leader of the parliamentary group, saying that he had decided to quit politics and focus on family life. He recently became a father.

He strongly opposes public and media criticism and corruption allegations. “As the prime minister, you have to make many decisions every day, but you knew early on that you would also make wrong decisions,” he said.

He described himself as “neither a saint nor a criminal” and added in an unusually long statement: “You are always under surveillance. You also feel like being pursued from time to time.”

After anti-corruption investigators searched the prime minister’s office, the Ministry of Finance, his party headquarters and a powerful publisher, Kurtz resigned as prime minister under strong pressure from his coalition partner, the Green Party.

Prosecutors suspect that the network of conservative politicians around Kurz used funds from the Ministry of Finance’s public wallet to purchase favorable newspaper reports and “fund partially manipulated opinion polls” to enhance the image of him and ÖVP.

The tabloid Österreich denied that it guaranteed favorable reports on Kurz and his party in exchange for taxpayers’ money, but according to reports, in the past two years alone, the Ministry of Finance paid 1.33 million euros (1.13 million) for its advertisements. GBP).

The prosecutor said that Kurz, who is under investigation for allegedly providing false statements and violating public trust, denied any wrongdoing. Nine other individuals and three organizations closely related to the former prime minister are also under investigation, suspected of varying degrees of corruption and bribery.

Kurz’s fall was as rapid as his rise. The 24-year-old Secretary of State of Fusion and the 27-year-old Minister of Foreign Affairs, he became the leader of ÖVP in May 2017, became prime minister six months later, and rebuilt the party around him.

During his first term, he reached a power-sharing agreement with the xenophobic far-right Liberal Party, which collapsed in 2019 when the populist party fell into Different corruption scandals.

Kurz said in his resignation statement that these allegations hindered his ability to work, requiring him to “defend [myself] Oppose accusations and lawsuits, and no longer compete for the best ideas.”

His successor, professional diplomat Alexander Schallenberg (Alexander Schallenberg) has been widely regarded as a placeholder until Kurz can clear his name and return to the office. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer will succeed Kurtz as the party chairman.

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