‘No saint, no criminal’: Ex-Austrian Chancellor Kurz leaves politics | Austria

Former Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, who has dominated his (center-right) People’s Party and political life in his country for the past five years, has unexpectedly announced that he is leaving politics.

Brilliant, cute and has long been seen as a politician wondersAt the age of 31, Kurtz became one of the youngest democratically elected heads of government in the world in 2017But he resigned from the position of advisor in October After being placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption.

On Thursday, he resigned from his remaining positions as ÖVP chairperson and parliamentary group leader, saying he had decided to leave politics in order to focus on his family life. He recently became a father.

He strongly repelled public and media criticism and allegations of corruption. “As a counselor, you have a lot of decisions that you have to make every day and you know early on that you will also make the wrong decisions,” he said.

Describing himself as “neither a saint nor a criminal,” he added in an unusually long statement: “You are always under watch. You also have the constant feeling of being hunted.”

Kurz stepped down as chancellor under strong pressure from his coalition partner, the Greens, after anti-corruption investigators searched offices in the chancellery, the finance ministry, his party headquarters and a powerful publisher.

Prosecutors suspect that a network of conservative politicians around Kurz used money from the Treasury Public Treasury to buy favorable press coverage and to “partly fund manipulated opinion polls” to bolster his and the ÖVP’s image.

The tabloid Österreich denied it secured favorable coverage of Kurz and his party in return for taxpayers’ money, but has reportedly paid €1.33m (£1.13m) for advertisements placed by the Finance Ministry over the past two years alone.

Prosecutors say Kurz, who is under investigation on suspicion of making false statements and breaching public confidence, has denied any wrongdoing. Nine other individuals close to the former advisor, as well as three organizations, are also under investigation, on suspicion of varying degrees of corruption and bribery.

Kurtz’s fall from grace was as swift as his ascent. Minister of State for Integration Affairs at 24 and Foreign Minister at 27, he became ÖVP leader in May 2017 and chancellor six months later, rebuilding the party around him.

He entered into a power-sharing deal with the far-right, xenophobic Freedom Party in his first term, an alliance that collapsed in 2019 when the populist party sank in A different corruption scandal.

In his resignation statement, Kurz said the accusations had hampered his ability to work, requiring him to spend his final months in office “on defence.” [myself] Against accusations and actions, and not competing for the best ideas.”

His successor as chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, a career diplomat, was widely considered a placeholder until Kurtz was able to clear his name and return to his post. The Minister of the Interior, Karl Nehamer, will succeed Kurz as party leader.

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