Home » News » Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announces his retirement from politics

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announces his retirement from politics

Barely two months after his resignation from the Chancellery on suspicion of corruption, Sebastian Kurz, presented yesterday as “The child prodigy” Austrian politics, at the age of 35 bowed out. “It’s a new chapter in my life that opens today”, he told reporters Thursday, December 2 in Vienna, saying he wanted to devote time to his family and his son Konstantin, born last weekend. He also referred to a new “Professional challenge” in the coming months, without giving details.

Mr Kurz quit his post as chancellor in October after an investigation was launched against him, while still leading the Austrian People’s Party (or ÖVP, for Austrian People’s Party, in German), Conservative, of which he also chaired the parliamentary group. A meeting of the federal office will be held on Friday and “I will hand over my duties”, he clarified. “This decision was not easy to take, but despite everything I do not feel any bitterness”, added the former chancellor.

He explained that he was “Worn out” by the recent accusations of the prosecution, which he rejects and which have “Started his enthusiasm”. “I am neither a saint nor a criminal, I am a human being with strengths and weaknesses”, he stressed.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Sebastian Kurz: behind the scenes of the fall of the Austrian Chancellor

Serial scandals

The scandal erupted in October, when several places, including the chancellery and the finance ministry, were raided as part of an investigation into suspicions of embezzlement of public funds between 2016 and 2018.

The alleged hijacking was intended to finance the publication of falsified polls and laudatory media coverage of Sebastian Kurz in the media of an influential Austrian press group, Österreich. In exchange, the latter was rewarded with the purchase of lucrative advertising inserts, according to the elements of the parquet floor.

Mr Kurz was the youngest head of government in the world when he took office at the age of 31. The coalition he had formed with the far right collapsed in 2019 when his ally found himself at the heart of a corruption case. New elections allowed him to regain his post until his resignation in October.

Claiming his innocence, Sebastian Kurz had asked a relative, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, to succeed him. But in mid-November, Parliament lifted its parliamentary immunity.

Read also Austria: Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announces his resignation after corruption charges

From the far right to the ecologists

Born in 1986 to a technician father and a teaching mother, the Viennese had a meteoric career before this sudden fall. He became Secretary of State at only 24 years old, even before having completed his law course. He was then appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs at the age of 27, before becoming Chancellor in 2017.

He owed his popularity to his opposition to welcoming refugees and to promises of massive tax cuts for the middle classes. To a prosperous Austria but destabilized by the migratory influx, the young leader proposes the closure of the borders. The flurry of anti-immigration measures passed during his first term and his strained relations with the media have made him a divisive personality.

Sebastian Kurz has certainly always asserted his pro-European convictions. But he rarely reframed the Austrian Freedom Party (or FPÖ, for Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs), nationalist, while xenophobic provocations from the far right have tarnished Austria’s image among its partners in the ‘European Union. In January 2020, the one whose political instincts and rhetorical talent hail political scientists, joined the Greens, a radical turn.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Austrian Chancellor investigated for “false testimony”

The World with AFP

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.