As would-be German Chancellor Olaf Scholz scrambles to stitch together a three-party "traffic light" coalition in the wake of the latest federal elections, right next door Austria's leader has become embroiled in yet another political crisis. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a darling of Europe's new right, announced his resignation on Saturday.
His resignation comes just days after he was named a suspect in an investigation by state prosecutors (prosecutors whom Kurz has previously criticized as incompetent and obsolete) into possible corruption and embezzlement of public funds. The police allege that Kurz may have been a part of a scheme that allegedly embezzled money from Austria's Treasury to pay bribes to domestic media outlets in exchange for favorable coverage. Five senior officials close to Kurz, as well as the chancellor himself, have been named in the warrant, but none of them have been charged or arrested.
Still, just the whiff of such blatant corruption - Kurz and his cronies allegedly funneling €1.2MM to pro-Kurz media outlets in 2016 and 2017, as the prosecutors claimed in a warrant - was apparently enough to force Kurz to resign from the chancellorship (though few expect this to be the final act in his political career; Kurz, 35, has already seen his first government collapse back in 2019 after a scandal involving the far-right Freedom Party).
While Kurz remains Austria's most popular politician in decades (although his conservatism has made him an object of hatred for some), the prospect of such blatant corruption (if these charges are proven, it's likely somebody within Kurz's circle will end up going to jail) were enough to provoke a rebellion by every party represented in Austria's assembly. Even the...