Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned on Saturday, averting a political crisis, after his coalition partner claimed he was unqualified to lead the nation due to an ongoing corruption probe.
Kurz’s decision, which he rejects, satisfies a demand by his junior coalition partner, the Greens, that he resign despite his intention to remain as his party’s leader and top legislator in parliament, positions from which he may continue to influence government policy.
“I would thus want to clear the path in order to break the impasse, avert turmoil, and guarantee stability,” Kurz said in a statement to the media.
He added that he was recommending to President Alexander Van der Bellen that Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, a career diplomat supported by Kurz’s party, be appointed chancellor.
Greens leader and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler expressed satisfaction, implying that Kurz had successfully resurrected their partnership.
“I think this is the appropriate move for future government cooperation,” Greens leader and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said in a statement, adding that he has worked with Schallenberg on a “very productive” basis.
Kurz, 35, became one of Europe’s youngest leaders when he became chancellor in 2017 at the head of a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.
On Wednesday, prosecutors said that they had arrested Kurz and nine others on suspicion of breach of trust, corruption, and bribery at different levels of participation.