Kurz steps down as chancellor - but for how long?
In the end the pressure was just too much: after initially refusing to resign from office amid ongoing corruption investigations, Sebastian Kurz finally resigned on Saturday. The 35-year-old proposed his party colleague and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as his interim successor, but he intends to remain ÖVP leader. Commentators don't believe much will change anyway.
Steer clear of supposed saviours
Now we see that the smart young chancellor with the clean image was just an illusion artist, comments the Frankfurter Rundschau:
“He was able to hold on for so long because with the help of a new image, his team and many inter-dependencies he had moulded the ÖVP to suit his own interests. He presented himself to the outside world with polished manners and a fresh political style. On the inside, intrigues, agitation and vulgar insults were apparently used as a means to achieve political ends. ... But the lesson from the Kurz affair has to be this: stay away from supposed saviours. It's a truism: power structures tailored to a single person or small cliques make democracy vulnerable to corruption and abuse of power.”
The new guy is just a stopgap
No change can be expected from Kurz's successor, writes Der Standard:
“Alexander Schallenberg, who is now to be chancellor, is a close confidant of Sebastian Kurz. He was a minister by Kurz's grace, one who was always loyal and always towed the line without any qualms. Above all, Schallenberg is also a guarantor that Kurz can return to the chancellorship when the dust settles, even within the party. Kurz was no longer tenable as chancellor. Not even for the ÖVP. ... For many people in this country, however, even this switch-over is unacceptable.”
The Greens already fear Kurz's comeback
Kurz will definitely run again as a candidate for chancellor in the next elections, Večernji list predicts:
“Kurz will remain the party leader of the new chancellor and the other ÖVP deputies, who will certainly not be as willing to compromise as before on crucial issues that are important for the Greens. This means new conflicts in the government and will trigger new elections. But not all that quickly. ... Only when Kurz has redeemed himself can he sell himself to the voters as a sacrificial lamb and move on to a new electoral triumph, which is already feared not only by all opposition parties but also by the Greens, who have just come to power for the first time in history thanks to the People's Party and Kurz. The fact that they turned their backs on Kurz and pilloried him and the ÖVP will cost them dearly.”
Why Austria must make a U-turn right away
Ilta-Sanomat finds it worrying that corruption cases have repeatedly rocked Vienna's politics in recent years:
“In the long term, avoiding corruption is in the interest of all the country's citizens. In the short term, corruption brings quick profits to many people who do not oppose it. If this happens often enough, corruption becomes the order of the day, something that no one cares about anymore. The EU does not automatically become more and more honest and efficient. Things can also go in the opposite direction. Austria might be just at the beginning of this path; it should make a U-turn immediately.”