Karl Nehammer is to become the new head of the conservative ÖVP and the new chancellor of Austria. The ÖVP’s executive committee decided unanimously on Friday after Nehammer’s words. The previous Minister of the Interior succeeds Alexander Schallenberg, who resigned his post after only two months in office. The trigger for the personnel rogue was the withdrawal of former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz from all party offices and from politics in general.
Nehammer is a former professional soldier with the rank of lieutenant and has been a party official for many years. Among other things, he stands for a tough stance against illegal migration and radical Islamist currents. One of his main projects as Interior Minister was the restructuring of the constitution protection, which had come under fire several times in the past years and also revealed deficiencies in the run-up to the terrorist attack of November 2, 2020.
Kurz was not a close confidante
Responsibility, solidarity and freedom would be among the central fundamental values of his policy, said Nehammer in an initial statement. “To be there for one another, to stand up for one another, to take care of one another”, that applies especially in the corona pandemic. According to the assessment of political observers, the 49-year-old man belonged to the extended, but not to the closest circle of friends of Kurz. “In contrast to Kurz, he also has intact connections to the Social Democrats,” said political scientist Thomas Hofer. The relationship with the green coalition partner is also sustainable, despite some friction.
Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen still has to formally swear in Nehammer as Chancellor. His role as party leader has yet to be confirmed by a party congress. The complete withdrawal of former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz from all political functions triggered a quake within the ÖVP on Thursday. Only a few hours after Kurz, his successor Schallenberg announced his resignation. Finance Minister Gernot Blümel followed in the evening, who also takes his hat. Schallenberg and Blümel were both considered close confidants. Further personnel damage was expected.
According to the APA, the current constitution minister, Karoline Edtstadler, could become the new interior minister. Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck are also to vacate their posts, according to the APA report. As the successor to Finance Minister Gernot Blümel, who had also announced his withdrawal from politics on Thursday evening, according to APA, among others, National Bank Vice-Governor Gottfried Haber and Economics Minister Martin Kocher are being traded.
Kurz had announced his complete withdrawal from politics on Thursday just under two months after his resignation. He justified this with the corruption investigation against him, but also with the birth of his son last Saturday. Kurz resigned as head of government on October 9 after allegations of infidelity, bribery and corruption and switched to the National Council as chairman of the ÖVP parliamentary group. His team is said to have promoted his rise since 2016 through embellished surveys and purchased media reports. In return, large sums of money, including taxpayers’ money, are said to have been used for advertisements.