Sebastian Kurz stepped down as Chancellor of Austria tonight, but that doesn’t mean his days as the most powerful man in Austrian politics are numbered. He will hand over his post to his foreign minister and lead his Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP) from parliament.
Everything indicates that the 35-year-old ‘wonderboy’, the youngest European head of government of all time, is determined to continue fighting for power in Parliament.
In the six minutes of explaining his resignation, he never looked beaten. He denied doing anything wrong, announced he would prove it, stressed that he worked his whole life “to contribute to Austria” and said he only cares about “our beau country to serve “.
The SMS which are perceived as clues to his corruption, he says he wrote in the heat of the moment, which would explain why they give the wrong impression. “I am also a human being with emotions and mistakes.”
He added that what has happened to many senior politicians in recent years has happened to him: being overloaded with wrongful accusations. The difference between him and the others is that his coalition partner, the Greens, does not want to continue with him, leaving him no choice but to withdraw.
Kurz expressed his gratitude for the support of the people. According to him, a lot of people have told him he shouldn’t let this happen, but it’s not about him, it’s about Austria, he said. Because, according to him, the attitude of the Greens threatens chaos.
He stressed that he still enjoys the full support of his own party and that without him there would be only a multi-party coalition with the backing of the right-wing populist FPÖ – something he invokes as a specter, although ‘he was associated with this party party in 2017 formed his first cabinet.
The fact that his own party is behind him makes his position very strong. Under Kurz’s leadership, the ÖVP became by far the largest party with over 37% of the vote in 2019, 15 percentage points more than the second party, the social democrat SPÖ.
The ÖVP has fallen a bit in the polls lately, but the drop is not dramatic and the ÖVP still has a lead of more than ten percentage points over the SPÖ.
In addition, there is no sign of internal party opposition to Kurz. He has systematically strengthened his position in recent years by appointing faithful everywhere who depend on him. It is also significant that he was re-elected as party leader at a party conference in August with 99.4% of the vote.
Kurz doesn’t seem like the guy to give up either. He’s a typical political animal. He fought for his political career all his life. At 16, he wanted to join the ÖVP, he interrupted his law studies to get into politics, and since then, politics is all he does.
He’s so focused on politics that he seems to lead a decidedly lackluster private life. He still lives in the district of Vienna where he was born, in a 65 square meter apartment, and is still with the girlfriend he met in high school.
Politics is everything for Sebastian Kurz. A life outside of politics seems unthinkable. In his speech, he said he hoped to regain the confidence of the Greens. Perhaps they will eventually have to determine that without Kurz it is impossible to rule.
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