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Austria’s ex-chancellor Sebastian Kurz retires from politics

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Austria’s former chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Thursday he is retiring from politics.

Kurz told reporters in Vienna that the recent birth of his first child had motivated him to take the step.

The 35-year-old stepped down as Austria’s leader two months ago amid ongoing corruption allegations.

Kurz acknowledged mistakes he had made during his 10-year career but insisted “I’m neither a saint nor a criminal”.

“I’m a human being with strengths and weaknesses,” he said, adding that he looked forward to defending himself against the corruption allegations in court.

“It is a new chapter in my life that opens today,” Kurz said, before handing over his party duties on Friday.

Kurz first became Austria’s Secretary of State at the age of 24, before he had even completed his law degree.

He was then appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs before becoming the world’s youngest head of government when he was appointed chancellor in 2017 aged 31 years old.

But the so-called “golden boy” of Austrian politics has faced years of investigations, dating back to 2019 when his coalition collapsed amid the “Ibizagate” corruption scandal.

Kurz resigned as Chancellor in October after Austrian prosecutors announced that he was one of the targets of an investigation into suspected bribery and breach of trust.

Kurz and his close associates are accused of manipulating polls and friendly media reports with public money to try and secure his position.

The Austrian Greens — junior coalition partners of the Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) — had called for him to step down and his parliamentary immunity was lifted last month.

Kurz was succeeded as chancellor by former foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg.

Austrian media report that Interior Minister Karl Nehammer could replace Kurz as the head of the conservative ÖVP and possibly succeed Schallenberg as chancellor.

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