Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz steps down amid corruption probe

VIENNA – Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Saturday that he would resign after a preliminary investigation on suspicion of corruption offenses, but he plans to remain in parliament as chairman of his party and its top legislature.

Kurz denies wrongdoing and had agreed to continue to govern with his coalition partner, the Greens. But the Left Party said the investigation made Kurz unfit to serve Chancellor and called on his party to name a successor who was “impeccable”.

The Greens started talks on Friday with the three Austrian opposition parties, all of which called for Kurz to resign and are planning to table one or more motions of no confidence in him in a special session of parliament on Tuesday. In order for an application to be accepted, the Greens must support it.

“I would therefore like to clear the way to end the stalemate, prevent chaos and ensure stability,” said Kurz in a press release.

He added that he intends to remain as party leader and take over the presidency of their MPs in parliament. As party chairman, he proposed Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as successor to Chancellor, he said.

The Greens still have to say whether they would accept Schallenberg.

Austrian media reports had said before Kurz’s announcement that he would only resign temporarily. Kurz did not say that he would defend himself through a lawyer: “Above all … I will of course use the opportunity to refute and refute the allegations made against me.”

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