Austria’s Kurz to face no confidence vote after govt resignations – lawmaker

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Austria’s Kurz to face no confidence vote after govt resignations - lawmaker

A top member of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPO) suggested there could be a no confidence motion in Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, after FPO ministers resigned en masse amid a party corruption scandal.

Herbert Kickl, who until Monday had served as interior minister in the coalition government, hinted that the FPO would support any future opposition motion to bring down the government if it was proposed, according to news website Oe24.

“It would be almost naive for Kurz to assume that we, the FPO, have no distrust of him following his distrust in us,” Kickl told the news outlet. “Whenever the extraordinary session happens, those who give trust receive trust and those who give distrust get distrust,” he said without elaborating.

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However, the FPO would not be bringing forward such a motion themselves. Kickl noted that People’s Party (OVP) leader Kurz had “maneuvered himself into a dead end” and was handing power back to the left.

Kickl’s role as interior minister was already in doubt on Monday, as Kurz pushed for his resignation over the weekend. Kurz argued that as an FPO member, Kickl was unfit to lead a corruption probe into his party’s boss and former vice chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache. After Kickl resigned, FPO ministers followed suit, leaving a further five ministerial positions vacant. Kurz said he would fill the gaps – which include posts at the foreign, defense, and transport ministries – with non-political “experts” until fresh polls can be held.

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The two-year political marriage between the FPO and OVP deteriorated over the weekend, after reports in German media on Friday placed Strache at the heart of an influence peddling scandal. Video footage from 2017 allegedly shows that Strache offered government contracts to the supposed niece of a Russian oligarch in return for buying an Austrian news outlet and flipping its editorial stance to support to FPO. Strache then resigned on Saturday with Kurz suggesting that new elections could be held in September.

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