Conservative Karl Nehammer appointed as Austria’s new chancellor

The current Interior Minister of Austria, Karl Nehammer, has been appointed Friday by the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) as the new leader of the formation and new federal chancellor, a position that will have to be confirmed by the federal president, Alexander van der Bellen. Nehammer was unanimously elected by the party leadership, which met Friday in an emergency meeting after the unexpected resignation of former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz as party leader and parliamentary spokesman. Also resigned on Thursday the hitherto chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, who had assumed that position in mid-October after the resignation of Kurz as head of government amid allegations of corruption.

In his first speech after his appointment, Nehammer has assured that his intention is to maintain the line maintained by the ÖVP within the coalition government he leads with the Greens (ecologists) since January 2020. Thus he intends to maintain the hard line of immigration control and move forward with the tax reform designed to, as he said, reduce the tax burden on those who earn the least, and continue with plans to enhance the fight against climate change.

In addition, he has insisted on continuing the strategy against the pandemic in Austria, where the low level of vaccination has caused a severe fourth wave of infections and deaths, and which includes the plan to impose compulsory vaccination from February.

Nehammer has announced that Schallenberg will return to the post of foreign minister, the portfolio he held until October when he took over the federal chancellery. There will also be changes at the helm of the finance, education and interior ministries.

Kurz had resigned as head of government on October 9 on charges of embezzlement and embezzlement of public money to commission and publish manipulated opinion polls in 2016. The accusation of the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office is based on a series of text messages between the chancellor and his collaborators, seized in the framework of another investigation. Kurz claims that these accusations are false.

After his resignation as Federal Chancellor on October 9, he had retained the presidency of the ruling People’s Party (ÖVP) and the position of parliamentary spokesman for his party. The Viennese politician was for years the “child prodigy” of the European Christian Democrats, having been secretary of state at the age of 24, foreign minister at 27 and head of government in Austria at the age of 31.

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