Austria’s chancellor chosen as predecessor quits after 2 months
Karl Nehammer, Austria’s minister of the interior, has been unanimously supported by the ruling conservative party to become the country’s next chancellor.
The unanimous vote was confirmed to Austria’s public service broadcaster, the ORF, by a top official in the People’s Party on Friday. Apart from being Austria’s chancellor, Nehammer will also double as the chairman of the conservatives.
It all comes after Alexander Schallenberg, who was sworn in as Austria’s chancellor only seven weeks ago, stepped down on Thursday, just hours after his predecessor in the country’s top office, Sebastian Kurz, announced that same day that he would be quitting all political posts he held.
The 49-year old politician is Austria’s sixth chancellor in just five years, with the ruling People’s Party being beset by allegations of corruption, most prominently levelled at ex-chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the party’s former coalition partners from the right-wing Freedom Party. Back in 2019, Germany’s Der Spiegel and the Süddeutsche Zeitung published secretly filmed footage at a villa in Ibiza in 2017. The video captured a conversation between the Freedom Party’s leadership and a woman posing as a niece of a Russian oligarch. In the video, the Austrian politicians appeared to agree to the woman’s offers of financial and media support in exchange for government contracts. The so-called Ibiza scandal led to the collapse of the then-coalition between the conservatives and the Freedom Party, whose leadership, though, insisted all along they had been set up, with the released video being selectively cut.
And in October this year, the Austrian prosecutor’s office for economic crimes and corruption announced that an investigation into the then-Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, was underway over alleged opinion poll manipulation several years prior.
Karl Nehammer is a veteran of Austria’s People’s Party and is known, among other things, for his tough stance on illegal immigration and the threat of Islamization.
Nehammer’s predecessor in the country’s top office, Alexander Schallenberg, is going to become Austria’s foreign minister. Although at the helm for less than two months, Schallenberg may go down in history as the first European leader to have announced mandatory vaccination against Covid, which is to take effect on February 1, 2022.