Sebastian Kurz started his first working day in his new role on Thursday, as a member of the Austrian National Council. With the oath “I pledge” he promised to keep the constitutional laws as well as the simple laws, that’s the formula. His colleagues from the “parliamentary club” of the ÖVP applauded, and some of the ranks of the other groups also politely applauded the new MP. Then the parliament in Vienna entered the budget debate very dryly. The following was called as the speaker at a subordinate position: Member of Parliament Kurz.
So ended a week in which Kurz, in his own words, had an “emotional rollercoaster ride” behind him with allegations of corruption, the power poker and finally his resignation from the office of Chancellor. But he had won a mandate as ÖVP’s top candidate in 2019, which he resigned as usual after the formation of the government and now accepted again, which is possible in Austria differently than in Germany. At the beginning of the week, when he was not yet a member of parliament, his “club” acclaimed him as chairman with one hundred percent approval.
“Parliament has decided. The people will decide. “
Kurz spoke for about six minutes in his “maiden speech”, the budget brought in the day before. He had lost a few words about the allegations against him when he went into the parliament building: His “step”, that is, the resignation as Federal Chancellor, had taken place “to ensure that there were stable conditions”. He will give the government the best possible support. He had previously distributed a video via the Internet in which he assured him that he did not want to take on the role of a “shadow chancellor”. And so in his parliamentary speech he praised the “good mix” in the new budget. “The tax reform will be felt by the people at the end of the day.” This applies regardless of the observation he has made over ten years of government experience: that in parliament the government factions are always “pro”, but the opposition always “against”.
Kurz, who became State Secretary in 2011 at the age of 24 without ever having sat in a parliament, has so far been rather strange with this institution. In 2017, for example, he treated the office of President of Parliament as a sort of siding to accommodate his important colleague Elisabeth Köstinger during the government negotiations with the FPÖ just in case. Everyone assumed that she would join the government when the coalition was concluded. That’s how it turned out. Instead, the former Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka, for whom there was no longer a place in the new cabinet, was resigned to the post of President. When a majority of MPs forced Kurz to leave the Federal Chancellery for the first time in 2019, he issued the new election slogan: “Parliament has made the decision. The people will decide in September. ”At that time he did not accept the mandate, but preferred to campaign outside this arena.
Now Kurz has come to stay for the time being. While he supported the government, he wanted to defend himself against the allegations. He regrets the wording in his SMS, which has since become known, “that I would not use in public”. But he was never criminally guilty of anything. The investigation continues. The pollster, who was arrested on Tuesday, was released on Thursday because the “reasons for detention assumed at the time of arrest” no longer existed, as the public prosecutor said. Apparently the reason for the arrest was a risk of blackout. The pollster is said to have deleted extensive data.
Government work meanwhile goes its own way. The new Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg gave a cascade of interviews and traveled to the EU on the inaugural visit. Not everything has been re-recorded yet. The message “My first trip as Federal Chancellor will take me to Brussels today” was accidentally sent via Sebastian Kurz’s Twitter account.