Austrian lawmakers sack Kurz as video sting crisis rolls on
- by Dikshita-Tiwari
- May 28, 2019 11:12
Austrian conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz suffered the biggest setback of his meteoric career on Monday as parliament voted the 32-year-old’s government out of office in the wake of a video sting that blew up his coalition with the far right. The star among Europe’s conservatives, known for his hard line on immigration, Kurz looked unassailable just two weeks ago. But then the leader of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) became entangled in a video sting, prompting him to step down and leading Kurz to call off their alliance. Kurz became the head of a caretaker government just days ago and hoped to use that position as a springboard to re-election, depicting himself as more of a victim of the current crisis than its enabler who brought the FPO into power. But the centre-left opposition said he shared the blame, and the FPO backed it.
“Kurz gambled away his chances and, Mr Chancellor, you bear full responsibility,” the Social Democrats’ (SPO) deputy parliamentary faction head Joerg Leichtfried said in a speech to lawmakers, minutes before his party submitted a motion of no-confidence against Kurz’s government. The first successful no-confidence motion against an Austrian government since the country regained its independence in 1955 was passed when lawmakers from the Social Democrats and FPO stood in support. Together they control a majority of seats in the assembly. Kurz’s party holds a third of the seats. Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen must now nominate a new chancellor to put together a caretaker government able to last until the election. While he could in principle choose Kurz again, that is highly unlikely. An elder statesman, like a retired president or senior judge, is the more probable. Van der Bellen is due to issue a statement at 9 p.m. Kurz had replaced outgoing FPO ministers with civil servants, arguing that even though he headed what was essentially a minority government, it represented stability in the wake of the video scandal and ahead of a parliamentary election widely expected to be held in September.