Alexander Schellenberg sworn in as Chancellor of Austria after Sebastian Kurz resigns amid corruption investigation

Former Foreign Minister Schalenberg was administered the oath by President Alexander Van der Belen at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Schalenberg, 52, is a career diplomat and a close aide former chancellor.

Kurz would continue to lead the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and remain a member of the Austrian Parliament.

A spokesman for the chancellor told CNN on Sunday that Kurz “has the full support of the People’s Party.”

Opposition politicians say this means Kurz will effectively remain in charge of the country, but with Schalenberg, who is relatively new to both politics and the OVP party, as a chief.

Pamela Randy-Wagner, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SP), said Kurz would continue to be a very influential figure.

On Saturday, Kurz announced he was stepping down after Austrian prosecutors raided his office and were investigating members of his team on suspicion of bribery and breach of trust.

Austrian prosecutors announced Wednesday that the 35-year-old is investigating a claim that government funds were used to ensure positive coverage in a daily newspaper.

Kurz said the corruption allegations against him were “false” and denied that he had used government funds for political purposes, but added: “I want to make room to guarantee stability.”

Opposition parties had threatened to bring a no-confidence motion against Kurz in Parliament on Tuesday.

According to public service broadcaster ORF, over the weekend, van der Bellen said that confidence in Austria’s political system had been “largely affected” and it was now up to politicians to repair the damage through “serious and focused work”. was dependent.

Results for ‘manipulation’

According to a statement from Austria’s Attorney General for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA), Kurz is under investigation along with nine other individuals and three organisations.

According to the prosecutor, raids were conducted at several places, including two government ministries, last Wednesday as part of the investigation.

The WKStA statement said, “Between 2016 and at least 2018, budgetary funds from the Ministry of Finance were used exclusively for party-politically motivated, sometimes opinionated research in the interest of a political party and its top management.” This was done to manipulate the survey conducted by the company.” .

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigns amid corruption scandal

“The results of the survey were published (without being declared as an advertisement) in the editorial section of the Austrian daily newspaper and other media belonging to the same group,” the statement said, adding that dubious payments were made in return to the media company. . “

Austrian media have identified the daily involved in the case as the tabloid-format daily Osterreich (Austria). The newspaper has denied the allegations and denied any wrongdoing in several op-eds published this week.

Kurz led the VP into government in 2017, in alliance with the far-right Freedom Party, turning the 2015 refugee influx into a vote-winner in the ballot box.

As Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hold in neighboring Germany seemed to be weakening, she rose to power. Despite his regular emphasis on his support for the European project, he was keen to dismantle his at least somewhat welcoming approach to migrants and move the continent on a more drastic path.

In May 2019, he and his government lost a motion of no confidence after a corruption scandal prompted by a secretly filmed video His patriarch Heinz-Christian Strauch K. But he returned to power after winning the general election in September of the same year.

CNN’s Cara Fox, Martin Goilando and Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting.


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