He said the chancellor chose the public decision because the events of recent days – searches of homes in his immediate vicinity, allegations of corruption and support for his coalition partner – made it necessary for him to speak up.
Kurz emphasized that, as a strong Democrat, he would, of course, accept if someone else had a majority in Parliament. However, he again dismissed the suspicions raised against him in the prosecution’s proceedings. He stated that everyone is equal before the law and that politicians cannot be treated differently and better than anyone else, but no worse. He added that the presumption of innocence belonged to him as well, and that it was in his personal interest to clarify himself as quickly as possible.
His partner in the Green Party coalition called for more consultations, to clarify differences and to continue the joint work that had begun, and stated that it is in everyone’s interest to resolve the current situation as soon as possible.
Green Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler succinctly responded to the Chancellor’s statement:
If ÖVP leaders feel they have been treated unfairly, they should turn to the rule of law institutions and not constantly attack the rule of law.
The government crisis in Austria was due to the fact that house searches were recently carried out at the headquarters of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), the Ministry of Finance and the Chancellery. The Attorney General’s Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA) is investigating Kurz and politicians in his immediate area on suspicion of involvement in bribery and breach of trust.
WKStA’s actions on Wednesday were aimed at finding evidence that the ÖVP tampered with opinion polls published in the Österreich collective newspaper in 2016 and covered their publication with public money.
Sebastian Kurz had already dismissed on Wednesday allegations that he was behind the case. He said there was no evidence of his involvement and that he had no intention of resigning as chancellor.
Cover image source: MTI / EPA / Christian Bruna