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Austria's Kurz Leaves Office


Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the Austrian People's Party, OEVP, addresses the media during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, May 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Gruber)
Austria's Kurz Leaves Office
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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz left office on Tuesday after parliament voted out his provisional government.

The vote was the latest in a political crisis brought on by a video recording. The video was filmed in 2017, but released only recently. Its images led to the ouster of Heinz-Christian Strache, Kurz’s second in command in the government. Strache is the head of Austria’s Freedom Party, or FPO.

The events do not necessarily mean the political end of 32-year-old Kurz, however. He is still the leader of his People’s Party and wants to lead it back to victory.

His party came in first in the recent European Parliament election.

“I am still here,” he told party activists after parliament voted on Monday.

After the vote, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen officially relieved the cabinet of its duties. He asked ministers except Kurz to continue for some time until a temporary cabinet can be made. The next parliamentary election is expected in September.

Van der Bellen also spoke of the video, which was filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza. In the recording, Strache talked about fixing state contracts.

“The disturbing image of Ibiza... has buried itself deep in our heads, not only here but also, of course, abroad,” the president said.

Strache denies any criminal wrongdoing. He resigned quickly after the video surfaced.

The Reuters news agency says the video recording raised questions about money and influence in Austria. It also shook public trust in the country’s political parties.

Van der Bellen said that the scandal created “a distorted image of our homeland, a different image to what Austria is really like.” He added, “Now it is our task to change that image step by step.”

I'm John Russell.

Francois Murphy reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

provisional – adj. existing or accepted for the present time but likely to be changed

relieve + of – phrasal verb. to remove (someone) from (a post, duty, job, etc.)

disturbing – adj. worrying or upsetting verb - disturb

distorted – adj. a change in the normal shape, appearance, or sound of (something) in a way that is usually not attractive or pleasing verbdistort

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