New Austrian leader under fire in parliament, mocked as Kurz’s puppet

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Opposition parties attacked Austria’s new Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg on Tuesday over his ties to his predecessor Sebastian Kurz, who quit over corruption allegations, while activists outside parliament mocked him as Kurz’s puppet.

Kurz, 35, quit as chancellor under pressure from his junior coalition party, the Greens, after prosecutors placed him and nine others including close aides under investigation on suspicion of various degrees of bribery, corruption and breach of trust. He denies any wrongdoing.

Kurz remains leader of his conservative OVP party and is now also its top lawmaker in parliament. Schallenberg, 52, a career diplomat and a relative newcomer to politics, has said he will work closely with his predecessor, and opposition parties say he will just carry out Kurz’s orders.

“He who follows blindly cannot lead,” the leader of the opposition Social Democrats (SPO), Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said during a special session of the lower house of parliament, called in response to Kurz being placed under investigation.

Outside parliament, the Socialist Youth, which is close to the SPO, set up an installation that depicted Schallenberg as a puppet, with Kurz pulling his strings.

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