Sebastian Kurz re-elected to the leadership of the People’s Party
The Austrian Conservative People’s Party, or OVP, overwhelmingly voted on Saturday to re-elect Chancellor Sebastian Kurz as its leader at a party meeting.
Kurz, 35, received the support of 533 of the 536 delegates, or 99.4%. He has led the party since 2017 and became the country’s youngest chancellor later that year.
Addressing his colleagues ahead of the vote in St. Polten, Kurz spoke about a range of political topics and priorities. He stressed the need to continue the country’s coronavirus vaccination campaign and, with regard to refugees from Afghanistan, said Austria “should not take in more people than we can fit”.
Saturday’s vote was a sign of the OVP’s confidence in Kurz, who has had a difficult political month. In May, he was investigated by anti-corruption authorities on suspicion of making false statements to a parliamentary committee.
The hearings in question were aimed at investigating the Ibiza case, a scandal involving far-right Freedom Party (FPO) leader Heinz-Christian Strache that sparked the collapse of Kurz’s previous government coalition in 2019. Kurz has denied the allegations and resisted calls for his resignation.
He alluded to the situation in his speech, saying it showed him the ‘dark side’ of politics and admitting that there were days when he ‘questioned everything’. Still, he added, he grew up in response.
“The experience actually made me even more resilient,” he said on Saturday. “It made me stronger and it made me more determined. “