11 Oct 2021
Following news Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned over the weekend, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg is set to take on the role.
Kurz and another nine people were being investigated after several raids were carried out linked to his conservative People's Party (ÖVP), BBC reports, "on suspicion of breach of trust ... corruption ... and bribery ... partly with different levels of involvement,” according to the Prosecutors' Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption. Kurz denies allegations he used government money to secure positive media coverage or manipulated polls.
The former Chancellor announced he would step aside to neutralise the political crisis, having been leader of the People’s Party since 2017. However, he is remaining in his role as party leader to remain at the centre of Austrian politics whilst he fights the allegations of corruption.
Kurz put forward Alexander Schallenberg for the role, a move accepted by the Greens. Schallenberg shares Kurz’s view on curtailing migration, but has a diplomacy background rather than party politics.
Back in 2007, Kurz told Der Spiegel in an interview that Schallenberg was one of the most talented ministers he had ever known.
According to political analyst Thomas Hofer: “In Kurz’s view, Schallenberg is a place holder… Kurz made his move in such a way that he still is in control of the party and has the government team on his side.”
One of the challenges facing the new Chancellor is leading a coalition with the Green Party, which has different views to the ÖVP on a number of issues.
In August, Schallenberg criticised the Greens for their “derogatory tone” after Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said the ÖVP of lacking humanity over accepting more refugees from Afghanistan.