Prosecutors say probe is over claims that gov’t money was used in a corrupt deal to gain positive coverage in a tabloid.
Austria’s Sebastian Kurz on Saturday announced he was stepping down as chancellor following pressure on him to resign after he was implicated in a corruption scandal.
In a televised media statement, Kurz said he wanted to “make space to prevent chaos”.
“We need stability,” the 35-year-old conservative said, adding it would be “irresponsible” to allow Austria to “slide into months of chaos or gridlock” while the EU member fights the pandemic.
Kurz said he would nominate Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as new chancellor, while he would stay on as the leader of his People’s Party (OeVP) and a lawmaker in parliament.
Vice Chancellor and Greens leader Werner Kogler on Friday had asked the OeVP to name another chancellor, saying Kurz was “no longer fit for office”.
On Wednesday prosecutors raided several locations linked to the OeVP and announced that Kurz and nine other individuals were under investigation over claims that government money was used in a corrupt deal to ensure positive media coverage.
Kurz has denied any wrongdoing, reiterating on Saturday that allegations against him were “false.”
“I will be able to clarify it; I’m sure about that,” he said calmly.
He said some of the text messages he wrote that got him into hot water were composed in “the heat of the moment”.
“I’m just human with emotions and mistakes,” he said.