Austria’s Kurz Quits Party and Parliament, Stunning National Politics

VIENNA (Reuters) -
Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gives a statement as he resigns from all political duties, in Vienna, Austria, Thursday. (REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz, who resigned as chancellor in October after he was placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption, said on Thursday he was quitting politics in a surprise move that leaves a power vacuum in his party.

Kurz has been the dominant figure of his People’s Party and Austrian political life since 2017, when he became party leader and then chancellor, winning a parliamentary election and forming a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party. He told a news conference he was leaving politics altogether.

Kurz resigned as chancellor last month after Austrian prosecutors announced that he was one of the targets of an investigation into suspected bribery and breach of trust. Kurz’s junior coalition partners, the Greens, had demanded his replacement.

He was succeeded as chancellor by Alexander Schallenberg, the former foreign minister.