Kurz’s Cabinet Toppled by Former Far-right Ally in No-Confidence Vote in Austria
Kurz’s caretaker Cabinet sworn into office last week after his coalition with the far right fell apart has proven short-lived.
The Cabinet of the center-right Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the Austrian People’s Party (OeVP) has lost a vote of no confidence in Austria after his far-right coalition partner until recently sided with the opposition.
The no-confidence vote in Austria was called by the leftist opposition in the wake of the Strache Scandal in which a video leaked by German media showed the leader of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache eager to do business with the pretend niece of a Russian oligarch during a 2017 meeting in Ibiza, Spain.
This led Kurz to break up his ruling coalition since 2017 with the FPOe while also calling early elections expected to be held in September. This in turn caused all government ministers from the far-right party to resign.
During the no-confidence vote on Monday, the far-right FPOe sided with the center-left Social Democrats and the leftist environmentalist Jetzt (Now) party to toppled the Kurz and his caretaker minority Cabinet, which was sworn into office only last week after the Strache Scandal broke out.
Only the liberal NEOS party voted against the motion, saying it preferred to avoid further political instability, DW reported.
On Tuesday morning, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen is expected to appoint a new caretaker Cabinet to remain in place until the holding of the general election in September.
Speaking on Monday evening, Van der Bellen made it clear that all government departments would be represented by a minister in the new caretaker Cabinet.
“I am still here. They cannot stop the change we have started,” Kurz himself told an election rally held three hours after the no-confidence vote.
“In the end the people will decide in September, and I’m happy about that,” he declared.
During the no-confidence vote debate, the opposition parties blame the Strache Scandal crisis on Kurz because of his decision in 2017 to select the FPOe as a coalition partner. The motion was initially against Kurz himself but was widened by the Social Democrats to include the entire Cabinet.
“It was clear for me that it meant the end of the coalition,” Kurz told the Austrian lawmakers during the no-confidence vote debates with respect to the Strache Scandal.
Reinhard Heinisch, a political scientist at the University of Salzburg, commented that Austrians should “prepare for uncertain times — the post-war era of stability is over.”
“The Kurz government was already a turning point, which took firm action against social democracy and consciously acted with the FPÖ against the principles of the Second Republic,” Heinisch added, referring to Austria’s political system after 1955.
(Banner image: Sebastian Kurz on Twitter)