Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s ex-chancellor, announced his retirement from politics on Thursday (Dec 2), only two months after resigning as national leader following his involvement in a corruption scandal.
The declaration brings to a close a remarkable career that saw him become the world’s youngest democratically elected leader of government at the age of 31 in 2017.
“In my life, a new chapter begins today,” the 35-year-old conservative told reporters. “Above all, I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and (new-born) kid before tackling new professional challenges in the next year,” he added.
He stated that he will relinquish all of his political responsibilities, including the chairmanship of his conservative People’s Party (OeVP).\
“Today’s choice was not easy for me,” he told reporters, adding that defending himself against corruption charges had taken a toll on his “passion” for politics. Kurz resigned as chancellor on Oct. 9 in a stunning turn of events, just days after being charged in a wide-ranging corruption probe.
He denies any wrongdoing and stated again on Thursday that he wants to have the opportunity to show his innocence in court.
He explained, “I am neither a saint nor a criminal; I am a human being with strengths and failings.”
Kurz announced the birth of his son Konstantin on Facebook over the weekend, and stated on Thursday that the delivery had been an “amazing” event, much better than winning two elections. Kurz’s first coalition with the far-right fell apart in 2019 after one of his allies was embroiled in a corruption investigation, forcing new elections.
Kurz was re-elected as chancellor, this time leading a coalition government with the Greens.
In October, prosecutors authorized searches on the chancellery and the finance ministry as part of an investigation into claims that Kurz’s inner circle used public funds to pay for surveys designed to promote his image.
Prosecutors also believe that newspaper Oesterreich obtained costly public advertisements in exchange for the surveys and adoring coverage of Kurz.