Austria’s Kurtz ousted in no-confidence vote after calling for snap elections
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Austria’s Kurtz ousted in no-confidence vote after calling for snap elections

Youngest-ever chancellor ends country’s shortest-ever term, paving way for fresh elections in which his right-wing party may emerge strengthened

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (2ndR) and Interior Minister Eckart Ratz (R) listen to speeches head of a confidence vote on May 27, 2019 in Vienna following the fallout from the "Ibiza-gate" scandal that toppled his coalition with the far-right. (ALEX HALADA / AFP)
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (2ndR) and Interior Minister Eckart Ratz (R) listen to speeches head of a confidence vote on May 27, 2019 in Vienna following the fallout from the "Ibiza-gate" scandal that toppled his coalition with the far-right. (ALEX HALADA / AFP)

The Austrian parliament voted to oust Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his ministers on Monday, paving the way for a caretaker government before a new election in which the young leader and his party could gain seats.

Parliament needed only a majority vote to pass the measure proposed by the opposition Social Democrats to oust Kurz and his Austrian People’s Party, who have led the country since May 2017.

Kurz pulled the plug on his coalition with the far-right Freedom Party earlier this month after a video emerged showing the party’s leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, appearing to be offering favors to a purported Russian investor. Strache stepped down from his position as vice chancellor, saying his behavior in the video was “stupid, irresponsible and a mistake.”

Following the scandal, Kurz on May 18 called for an early election, saying he would ask President Alexander Van der Bellen to set a date for a new election “as soon as possible.”

This situation prompted the Social Democrats’ motion on Monday to remove Kurz and his party from government as well.

A new election was scheduled for September.

Prior to Monday’s vote, Kurz defended his administration’s track record, telling the country’s parliament he was “very proud and satisfied with the work we have done as a government in the past year and a half.”

At 32, Kurz is the country’s youngest ever chancellor. With the no-confidence vote on Monday, he also becomes Australia’s shortest-serving leader.

The vote came a day after Kurz’s party emerged strengthened in European elections.

Kurz’s center-right Austrian People’s Party finished first in Austria in the European elections with 34.9%. The Social Democrats won 23.6% and the Freedom Party took 18.1%.

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