'Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has lost a no confidence vote in parliament following corruption allegations involving his now ex-vice chancellor. The scandal earlier led to the breakup of the coalition government.
The motion was brought to Austria’s lower house of parliament by Peter Pilz, an environmentalist MP, and unanimously supported by the left-wing Social Democrats (SPO) and the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO).
Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen will now appoint a caretaker chancellor to lead the country until fresh elections can be held in September. Last Wednesday, Van Der Bellen swore in a mix of politicians and technocrats to fill ministerial roles vacated by the FPO recently.
The ruling coalition between Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (OVP) and the FPO was rocked by the scandal on May 17. Back then, German media published a video showing vice chancellor and FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache allegedly soliciting a bribe from a woman who “supposedly” was a niece of a Russian tycoon.
Strache resigned following the scandal in order to not “damage” the coalition. He slammed the video as a “targeted political assassination,” saying the released parts were taken out of context. Kurz swiftly distanced himself from the junior coalition partner and called for snap elections as the only way to “restore trust in public institutions.”
The 32-year-old chancellor also proposed the sacking of the interior minister, Herbert Kickl, who, as Kurz put it, was unfit to lead a probe into his party’s leader. Kickl’s departure was followed by a walkout of FPO ministers. Five out of 13 ministers in Kurz’s government left their positions.
In the wake of Monday’s no confidence motion, speculation will now turn to whether Kurz can claw his way back into power in September. In 2002, then-Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel survived a no confidence vote only to solidify his power in the following election. For Kurz, the chances of returning to office could be significantly slimmer.'
Read more: Austria’s Chancellor Kurz loses no confidence vote following corruption scandal
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