27, May 2019
The Austrian parliament has removed Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his caretaker government from office in a no-confidence vote over a corruption scandal.
The motion was passed on Monday in the aftermath of the release of a controversial video of the vice chancellor and far-right freedom party (FPO) leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who was seen to be allegedly offering public contracts to a Russian agent in return for political support.
Social Democrats (SPO), the main proponents of the 32-year-old leader’s ouster, blamed him for forming a coalition with Strache’s party and accused the chancellor of an “uncurbed and shameless power grab.”
The two parties have a majority of 103 seats combined in the Austria’s 183-seat lower house.
“Kurz gambled away his chances and, Mr. Chancellor, you bear full responsibility,” the SPO deputy parliamentary faction head Joerg Leichtfried said in a speech before submitting the motion.
The vote, backed by more than half of MPs, came despite a surprise victory of Kruz’s conservative People’s Party (OVP) in Sunday’s European elections, which is projected to gain 34.9 percent of the vote and two extra European parliament seats.
Strache, denying all allegations, resigned from his political posts after the video release.
Austrian prosecutors said they were investigating Strache’s video “in multiple directions”, but declined to provide further details.
The Central European country will now be led by a transitional body until general elections are held in September.