Written by Staff Writer by Marcia Dunn, CNN
Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced Tuesday that he is stepping down from politics, effective immediately.
Kurz is a member of the People’s Party (OVP), which is currently leading in the polls ahead of general elections in April 2019. Kurz’s surprising election win in November 2017 was widely viewed as a rebuke to the ruling Social Democrats (SPO), who were struggling to retain power.
1 / 8 – ‘Austria is un-ready’ Austria, at a glance, is a generally unsociable country, where the population of about 8.3 million is more than half native-born, an outsize 45% are foreigners, and the rest are defined by history, appearance, nationality or occupation as foreigners, according to the Institute for Migration Studies. It’s also home to the fastest-growing influx of refugees in Europe. Credit: EPA/RASTRIA KHABIR
Kurz’s announcement came only a day after he announced that he had become Austria’s first foreign minister, just two weeks after his appointment.
But the size of his majority on the OVP’s steering board and his lack of a coalition partner had raised questions about his political future. And although he had promised a return to the municipal council (Kurz had represented Passau, in the predominantly German-speaking province of Baden-Wuerttemberg) — before Thursday’s announcement, it was not immediately clear if he would remain as head of the OVP.
“The leaders of the governing coalition — the SPO and the OVP — must take responsibility for the mess that we have caused with resignations, clear defeats and betrayals in recent months,” he said, in a statement on Tuesday.
SPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache was widely expected to challenge Kurz in April’s general election, but if he doesn’t, both leaders are all but certain to fall out. Strache said on Monday that he intended to run.
Kurz had previously said that the state of Austria’s economic and political institutions were “sad” and “completely unacceptable.”