Oct 17, 2021 15:37 UTC
  • Austrians turn on ex-chancellor's party after corruption claims

Austria's conservative People's Party (OVP) has lost its support among Austrians following the resignation of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz over corruption charges, a poll reveals.

According to the survey published by the German-language daily newspaper Kurier on Sunday, support for the OVP party -- the senior partner in the coalition government -- has decreased from 34% to 26% after Kurz stepped down, putting it only marginally ahead of the Austrian opposition Social Democratic Party (SPO)'s approval rating of 24%.

Some 71% of the people questioned in the survey thought Kurz's resignation as chancellor was justified, with only 22% saying it was unwarranted.

Kurz, 35, announced that he plans to step down after he became a target of corruption investigation. Foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg was sworn in as new chancellor on Monday after his predecessor quit.

His junior coalition party, the Greens, which had demanded Kurz’s replacement, welcomed his decision as “a right and important step.”

Kurz has remained OVP’s leader as well as its top lawmaker in parliament, triggering opposition claims he is still exercising power behind the scenes.

He and his close associates are accused of trying to secure his rise to the leadership of his party and the country with the help of manipulated polls and friendly reports in the media, financed with public money. He has denied any wrongdoing.

In a separate case, anti-corruption authorities put Kurz under investigation in May on suspicion of making false statements to a parliamentary commission, an allegation he also rejected.

A separate poll published by Unique Research for Profil magazine on Saturday, has also revealed that Kurz’s resignation has damaged the OVP.

The conservatives polled only 25% with Schallenberg as candidate, 10% down on earlier polls and the same level as the Social Democrats.

Two thirds of respondents told the Unique Research poll they thought there was substance to the allegations against Kurz, while 23% said they thought there was nothing to the affair.

The coalition government took office in January 2020.

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