Former army officer and acting chairman of Austria’s liberal-conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Karl Nehammer will assume office on Monday, following the resignation of Alexander Schallenberg after only two months at the helm of the country.
Shallenberg resigned in the wake of the previous chancellor, Sebastian Kurz,’ announcing that he will no longer head the governing ÖVP and retire from politics altogether.
“I am certain that the two offices — the head of government and the presidency of Austria’s strongest party — must merge quickly in one hand,” Shallenberg said last Thursday.
The 49-year-old Nehammer, a former professional soldier, is well-known for his hard-line views on security and migration issues. On Twitter, he openly supported Denmark’s position on restricting migration.
After his military career, Nehammer studied political communication and held several important positions in the ruling Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). Following the terrorist attack in Vienna on Nov. 2, 2020, Nehammer was also blamed. Four people died and 23 were injured. He was also blamed for the failure of the federal counter-terrorism office.
Nehammer admitted that law enforcement failed to prevent the attack. He said in early November that “although everyone was working to the best of their ability, it is a fact that the terrorist has managed to deceive the experts in the deradicalisation program of the judiciary and thus get an early release.”
Nehammer will take over as head of federal government in Austria during an intense period of the spread of the coronavirus. On epidemic management, he said he was ready for the new challenge because, as interior minister, he was already responsible for putting in place the necessary measures.