Austrians attack ex-chancellor’s party after corruption allegations

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Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz delivers his speech at a parliamentary session in Vienna, Austria, October 14, 2021. REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger / File Photo

ZURICH, October 17 (Reuters) – The Austrians have turned against the Austrian People’s Party (OVP), the main partner of their coalition government, after party leader Sebastian Kurz stepped down as chancellor over allegations of corruption , according to a poll released on Sunday.

Support for the conservative OVP fell from 34% to 26% in the wake of the affair, according to the investigation published on Sunday by the Kurier newspaper.

The result puts the party, which appointed former Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as new chancellor, barely ahead of the Social Democratic opposition’s (SPO) approval rating of 24%, according to the newspaper.

Kurz, 35, resigned as chancellor under pressure from his junior coalition party, the Greens, after prosecutors put him under investigation on suspicion of bribery, bribery and breach of trust in various degrees. He denies any wrongdoing. Read more

Kurz remains the leader of his party and is now also his main lawmaker in parliament, which sparked the opposition’s claim that he still wields power behind the scenes. Read more

Some 71% of those polled in the Kurier survey believed Kurz’s resignation as chancellor was justified, with just 22% saying it was unwarranted.

Anti-corruption prosecutors say they suspect Tory officials then in the finance ministry of using public funds to pay for manipulated polls and Kurz-friendly coverage to appear in a newspaper from 2016, as he sought to become party leader.

A Unique Research poll for Profil magazine released on Saturday also showed how the Kurz affair has hurt the OVP.

The Conservatives voted only 25% with Schallenberg as the candidate, 10% less than previous polls and the same level as the Social Democrats.

Two-thirds of those polled told the Unique Research poll that they believed the allegations against Kurz were true, while 23% said they believed there was nothing in the case.

Reporting by John Revill Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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