Austrian Chancellor Schallenberg stepping down
Alexander Schallenberg has announced he is resigning as chancellor of Austria, just two months after taking office. He said he would remain in the post until his party agrees a new leader in the wake of Sebastian Kurz’s departure.
Just hours earlier, Schallenberg’s predecessor and People's Party leader Kurz said he was leaving politics and would officially step down as party chair on Friday.
In a statement on Thursday, Schallenberg said he believes “that both positions – head of government and leader of the Austrian party with the most votes – should soon once again be held by the same person.”
“I am therefore making my post as chancellor available as soon as the relevant course has been set within the party,” he added.
Schallenberg had stepped into the chancellorship after Kurz left office amid corruption allegations in October. Many expected the latter to return, but he announced his retirement from politics completely on Thursday, insisting the move was not an admission of guilt, but rather a personal decision.
The Austrian prosecutor’s office for economic crimes and corruption has opened an investigation into Kurz and a number of his close associates after accusations they manipulated opinion polls alongside misusing public funds to secure favorable media coverage of his policies between 2016 and 2018. Kurz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.