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Austria’s chancellor Sebastian Kurz steps down over corruption probe, 4 years after becoming world’s youngest leader



Austria’s Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz on Saturday October 9 announced he is stepping down from his position following pressure on him to resign after he was implicated in a corruption scandal.

Sebastian Kurz and nine of his associates have been accused of using public money to pay to manipulate polls and to secure friendly reports in the media.

Kurz who revealed that he would be nominating Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as the new chancellor, while he stays on as the leader of his People’s Party (OeVP), said he took the decision to “make space to prevent chaos”.

The 35-year-old conservative said in a televised media statement “we need stability,” adding it would be “irresponsible” to allow Austria to “slide into months of chaos or gridlock” while the EU member fights the pandemic.

Greens leader and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler indicated he was satisfied, meaning Mr Kurz had succeeded in pulling their coalition back from the brink.

A star among Europe’s conservatives and known for his hard line on immigration, Mr Kurz, 35, became one of the continent’s youngest leaders when he took over as chancellor in 2017 at the head of a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday October 6, that they had placed Mr Kurz and nine others under investigation on suspicion of breach of trust, corruption and bribery with various levels of involvement.

Starting in 2016 when Mr Kurz was seeking to take over as party leader, prosecutors suspect the conservative-led Finance Ministry paid for advertisements in a newspaper in exchange for manipulated polling and coverage favourable to Mr Kurz.

Mr Kurz has pledged to defend himself against what he says are false allegations. He had said he was willing to keep governing with the Greens. But the left-wing party said the investigation made Mr Kurz unfit to serve as chancellor and called on his party to name a successor who was “beyond reproach”.

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