Former Foreign Minister Schallenberg becomes Austrian Chancellor

Change at the top averts coalition crisis

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: MTI
Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)

Former Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg will replace Sebastian Kurz as Austrian Chancellor, President Alexander Van der Bellen announced on Sunday night in Vienna after a face-to-face with the candidate and then Green Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler during the day.

He said they were both assured that there would be a solid foundation for cooperation and the continuation of joint governmental work.

“They both have a personal responsibility to the citizens,” he added.

Schallenberg was nominated by the senior coalition partner Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) after Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced his resignation after Saturday night’s cabinet meeting. Kurz resigned because the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) had been investigating the Chancellor’s immediate environment for days on suspicion of bribery and dishonesty, and the coalition partner Green Party had backed out from behind Kurz, pushing the government to the brink of collapse.

The head of state praised Sebastian Kurz’s decision to preserve the reputation of the Chancellery by resigning and to make a significant contribution to protecting the integrity of the institutions. He also thanked the other party presidents for working together to find the best possible solution.

Van der Bellen, however, stressed that “everything is not right,” as people’s confidence has been severely shaken in politics and has therefore asked every politician to work hard to regain that trust.

“Words will no longer be enough, serious and decisive work will be needed,” he declared.

Alexander Schallenberg has so far been Foreign Minister. The expected head of the vacant position of Foreign Minister, whom he has not yet appointed, will also be inaugurated by the Head of State on Monday.

The future Chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, comes from a family of diplomats and is himself a well-known diplomat with extensive government experience. After the fall of the first Kurz government, from June 2019, he also served in Brigitte Bierlein’s government as Foreign Minister and later as Chancellor. The second Kurz government confirmed him in his office as Foreign Minister in January 2020, the only one of the members of the previous government to remain in office.

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