Austria's chancellor vows to stay on despite corruption probe
Sebastian Kurz said he wants to stay on as Austria’s chancellor despite a corruption probe, but will accept the outcome if the junior Green party seeks another coalition.
“We stand by this government and the government agenda, and all the things that we have planned to do,” Kurz said.
Kurz made brief comments to reporters outside the Chancellery in Vienna, as he headed into a meeting with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.
Kurz, 35, and his inner circle have been implicated in a corruption investigation that’s testing the fragile two-year coalition between his People’s Party and the Greens.
In the wake of the scandal, the Greens have questioned Kurz’s ability to hold on to power and are seeking talks with other parties.
State leaders from Kurz’s party have pledged support, while his fellow cabinet members said they’d only be part of a government led by him.
Anti-corruption prosecutors raided the offices of several Chancellery staff on Wednesday for their alleged role in funnelling federal funds to a newspaper publisher to orchestrate Kurz’s rise in government.
The investigation has reached a stage where the Chancellery’s ability to execute its duties has been drawn into question, Green Party chief and Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler said in a statement on Thursday.
Prosecutors said evidence suggested the chancellor knowingly collaborated in efforts to plant political advertising camouflaged as poll data. The investigation involves communication between senior government officials from 2016, when Kurz was foreign minister.
Kurz has denied any wrongdoing and said it was part of political efforts to remove him from power. Text messages revealed in a search warrant did not implicate him and related to normal cooperation between government and media, Kurz told the public broadcaster ORF late Wednesday.
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