Austria’s Kurz forced from office, loses no time to prepare comeback |

Austria’s Kurz forced from office, loses no time to prepare comeback

Getty Images
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz leaves Monday after he delivered a statement at the Political Academy in Vienna after he lost a confidence vote following the fallout from the “Ibiza-gate” scandal that toppled his coalition with the far right.

VIENNA — Austria’s conservative leader Sebastian Kurz was ousted as chancellor in a no-confidence vote in parliament Monday, but launched his re-election campaign just hours later.

“I am still here,” Kurz told a crowd of fans and cheering People’s Party officials that were bused to Vienna.

The far right and leftist parties that voted against him had nothing to offer except a wish to get rid of him, Kurz charged.

“They cannot stop the change that we have started,” he said.

The move by the Social Democrats (SPOe), far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) and leftist Jetzt (Now) pushed Austria into uncharted political waters: It was the first successful no-confidence vote in the country’s post-World War II history.

President Alexander Alexander Van der Bellen is set to appoint a cabinet of experts to govern until early elections, which are expected to take place in September.

Kurz’s ousting came in the wake of Austria’s current crisis surrounding populist FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who was secretly recorded in 2017 on Ibiza as he offered infrastructure and media deals to a woman posing as a wealthy donor with Russian ties.

After the video was published by German media May 17, Strache stepped down, while Kurz called early elections and ended his coalition with the FPOe.

SPOe chief Pamela Rendi-Wagner charged that Kurz had failed to consult the parliamentary opposition when he exchanged FPOe ministers with conservative ministers to form a minority cabinet last week.

“This is a shameless, unbridled and irresponsible power grab,” Rendi-Wagner said.

Social Democrats held Kurz responsible for the crisis, as it was his idea to bring the FPOe to power as a junior coalition partner in 2017.

Although the 32-year-old immigration hardliner is set to be forced out, Kurz’s prospects for the Austrian elections look strong.

His OeVP won the EU vote by a wide margin on Sunday, and an opinion poll that was published on Saturday showed that 62 per cent backed the minority caretaker government Kurz formed last week.

FPOe parliamentary leader Herbert Kickl, who was ousted as interior minister last week, also charged that Kurz had taken advantage of the FPOe’s temporary problems.

“This power grab is disgusting,” Kickl said.

Kurz made international headlines when he became the European Union’s youngest leader in late 2017.

He served as foreign minister during the 2015-16 refugee crisis, when he built a coalition with south-east European countries to effectively shut the Balkan migration route from Turkey to Central Europe.

Since then, Kurz has been among the EU’s most vocal advocates of curbing immigration.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Strache won the right to take a seat in the European Parliament on Sunday, despite the corruption allegations that cost him his government job, local media reported Monday.

Strache collected enough preferential votes to catapult him from 42nd place on his party ticket to the EU legislature, according to research by Austrian broadcaster ORF and Austrian press agency APA.

However, it is unclear if Strache plans to take his seat.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.